Schools' appraisal of Arlington Park site $32 million less than assessed value

An appraisal of the former Arlington International Racecourse site commissioned by three suburban school districts valued the 326-acre parcel at $160 million.

That's $32 million less than the current assessed value, according to a statement Friday from the three school districts.

"In an effort to address the ongoing property value concerns, the school districts secured two independent appraisals," said the joint statement from Northwest Suburban High School District 214 in Arlington Heights, Palatine Elementary District 15 and Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211. "The school districts immediately provided a copy of the appraisal to the Cook County assessor and to the Chicago Bears."

Bears officials said Friday discussions are continuing with officials in Arlington Heights.

The three school districts have been at odds with the Bears about the value of the site since the NFL franchise closed on the $197 million sale of the property in February.

The most recent assessed value by Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi's office lists the property at $192 million, district officials said.

"The school districts ... routinely become involved in property tax matters to defend against unwarranted reductions in the assessments of significant commercial and industrial properties," the statement said. "We do so because the reductions being sought on these significant properties increase the tax burden on homeowners and can reduce the amount of money available to fund education."

District officials went through a similar appraisal process with the racetrack's former owner Churchill Downs in 2022, they said.

"The Bears have committed to providing us with an appraisal of the property before the end of this year," the statement said.

Bears officials have released basic conceptual drawings of how the stadium would fit into the landscape of the village, but no concrete stadium designs have been divulged by the team. The team currently plays its games at Chicago's Soldier Field, which has the smallest capacity of any NFL stadium.

In September, Bears officials announced they would not pursue legislation this year that would grant the team a massive property tax break on the site where they could build a new stadium. Such a bill could return in the spring session, however.

The legislation - also supported by a coalition of business groups and unions - would freeze the assessment at the property and allow the Bears to make negotiated payments to local taxing bodies such as schools.

The latest version of the bill backed by state Rep. Marty Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat, would add a $3-per-ticket tax on every admission to a new Bears stadium to help pay down Chicago's debt from the 2002 renovation of Soldier Field. Moylan also has proposed nearby municipalities get a cut of state revenues from taxes on sales, hotel, liquor and sports wagering at any new Bears development at the former racetrack site.

• Daily Herald staff writer Christopher Placek contributed to this report.

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