(The Center Square) – A Rockford-area lawmaker is encouraging the Chicago Bears to leave Soldier Field to Arlington Heights, but with no tax incentives.
State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, has introduced a pair of resolutions, House Resolution 627 and House Resolution 742, in support of a new, larger stadium in Arlington Heights that could drive economic activity for the region.
“I think you’ve got an opportunity for ancillary private sector development to happen, which adds to the overall economic engine of what an NFL team can provide to a state,” Sosnowski said. “A stadium that can host a Super Bowl, the NCAA Finals, and other major events, that’s obviously something that is important.”
The resolution cites Arlington Heights’ location off a major highway, near O’Hare Airport and close to a dedicated stop on the Metra commuter rail line as additional reasons for its suitability.
At the same time, Sosnowski’s measure makes clear there’s no appetite for the kind of financial assistance that has been handed out elsewhere. New York lawmakers are considering a proposed deal that would give the Buffalo Bills $850 million in taxpayer funds to help the team build a new stadium.
“We’ve seen other examples from around the country where hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars go to prop up these stadium projects,” Sosnowski said. “I’m advocating for no state or local incentives to go towards the actual building of the stadium.”
He argues the Bears could learn a lesson from the Chicago Cubs when it comes to self-financing stadium work.
“They’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the stadium and the surrounding neighborhood to rehabilitate and create a better fan experience,” Sosnowski said. “I don’t know of any public dollars that went towards that. I think we have a great model there.”
A separate resolution in the House sponsored by Sosnowski would put a stop to all incentives offered by municipalities to move a business inside the state.
“That would affect a deal like this,” Sosnowski said. “We don’t want a city competing against another city in Illinois and really just spending taxpayer dollars to move a business from one location to another.”
The Bears organization signed a purchase agreement for Arlington Park last year, but no decision has been made on a possible move.
Lawmakers are in session through April 8. It’s unclear if Sosnowski’s legislation will advance. Both could be heard in the House Tourism Committee April 5.
Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.