The Bears are about to play their first game in Arlington Heights that won’t involve football but another favorite Chicago pastime: challenging property tax assessments.

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi reset the land value of the former Arlington International Racetrack to $197 million, a nearly sixfold increase from its previous tax value of about $33.5 million, the Daily Herald Report. That’s also slightly less than the NFL team’s $197.2 million Agree For the site, it plans to build a $5 billion precinct there, including a stadium and other retail and commercial assets.

Seeking to dodge the sudden tax increase, the Bears appealed to the three-member Cook County Board of Examiners, saying the new assessment was “exorbitant.” If the assessment holds, it would cost the Bears about $15 million a year in additional taxes compared to the previous valuation.

“We want to pay our fair share,” the Bears said in a statement. “However, the proposed assessment of the unoccupied property we are buying, and the taxes associated with it, would be more than five times what the property would generate if it had an income-generating racetrack. tax rates to redevelop Arlington Park.”

Kaegi’s chief of staff Scott Smith defended the assessment, saying it took into account factors such as the recent sale of the property, a cost analysis and other recent transactions for large blocks of land in the north-west suburbs.

“In each approach, we found market values ​​consistent with recent purchase prices in Bears and other large properties purchased for redevelopment,” Smith said.

Although the site is not currently generating revenue, Smith added that the Bears have not yet filed for vacancy status for the property, which is “capable of being fully functional today.” Maintenance costs and depreciation also played a role in the valuation.

Commission examiner Samantha Steele said the appeal could take time because of the size and complexity of the case. If the Bears are not satisfied with the results, the team can appeal to a state agency, the Property Tax Appeals Board, or file a lawsuit in state court to challenge the assessment.

— Quinn Donoghue

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