If the Chicago Bears want a new stadium in Arlington Heights, they may have to pay for it themselves. State lawmakers are lining up to block the team from using taxpayer money.
A day after the team announced they had signed a purchase agreement for the Arlington International Race Course property in northwest suburban, several lawmakers pushed to block any taxpayer funding for a new stadium.
Governor JB Pritzker won’t commit to it either.
When asked if it’s inappropriate for taxpayers to pay for stadium buildings Prtizker said, “That’s not something I would decide for a city. Cities will have to make their own decisions on what they’ll do.”
Pritzker is a Bears fan but said his responsibility to maintain fiscal responsibility for the state is his top priority.
“As you know, it’s very important for us to focus on our fiscal situation in the state, making sure we’re building up our infrastructure of the state and that we’re balancing our budget,” he said.
Push back on any new state funding going to the Bears is coming loud and clear from several state lawmakers.
Representatives Mike Zalewski (D) 23rd District and Rep, Kam Buckner (D) 26th District filed what they call proactive legislation Thursday.
“I want to be clear, the Bears have not officially come to the state to even ask.” Buckner said. “But what we’re saying is please don’t come because we have an obligation to operate the state’s finances based on our state’s priorities and this should not be one of them.”
They say it would ensure that taxpayers are not responsible financially if a new stadium is built in Arlington Heights.
“The reasoning is really simple,” Zalewski said. “We’ve already invested taxpayer money into Soldier Field and before we begin a project on a new stadium, we should take our time and make sure the taxpayer investment is being protected in the existing investment.”
Zalewski said taxpayers remain on the hook in the amount of about $400 million from the original Soldier Field renovation.