ICYMI: Don’t Make Bears Fans Pay for Another Corporate Welfare Scheme 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 15, 2021                                                              

ICYMI: Don’t Make Bears Fans Pay for Another Corporate Welfare Scheme 

ROLLING MEADOWS, IL – Today, the Daily Herald published an OpEd from Brian Costin, Deputy State Director for Americans For Prosperity – Illinois (AFP-IL), on the potential impacts of the Chicago Bears exploring a move to Arlington Heights, IL. Highlighting the corporate welfare incentives the city of Chicago has already provided to the Bears, Brian calls on Arlington Heights and other Illinois towns trying to lure the bears not to fall into the same trap that will raise taxes on Illinois families in the area.

Meanwhile, a couple of pieces of legislation have been drafted in Springfield to limit corporate welfare in Illinois.

Rep. Joe Sosnowski has authored the Local Government Business Anti-Poaching Act, which would prohibit municipalities or counties from offering any incentive to a business to move any part of its operations already located in Illinois.

Rep. Bob Morgan introduced the Phase Out Corporate Giveaways Intestate Compact in Illinois, which would create an agreement among states to phase out corporate tax giveaways to lure companies.

Check out the full OpEd in the Daily Herald here and see some excerpts below: 

…Beware, though: City officials are looking for ways to stick taxpayers with the expense of a new field. A quick trip through history shows why politicians will likely consider another corporate welfare scheme to pay for it. 

Soldier Field’s $660 million renovations in 2003, for example, were financed by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, whose revenues come, in part, from hotel taxes and a combined $10 million in city and state subsidies. The state covered nearly $400 million of the total cost through bonds authorized by the ISFA, a toll on taxpayers made worse by the interest on our debt, over $46 million in 2021. 

Meanwhile, the Bears only paid $3.1 million in rent over the 2020 pandemic year. Bridgeview’s SeatGeek Stadium, opened in 2006, was similarly financed. In 2005, the Village of Bridgeview issued $135 million in general obligation bonds for the creation of the stadium. 

Of course, taxpayers ate the cost. Bridgeview’s bond rating fell to junk status in 2017 which, the S&P noted, “reflects our view that the village will continue to face acute business, financial, and economic uncertainties related to its debt burden, particularly the debt issued for its Toyota Park stadium,” the original name of SeatGeek.

…Arlington Racetrack is the second largest property taxpayer in the village, and losing that revenue could be prohibitive. The City of Chicago has already lost millions if not billions in tax revenue keeping the Bears at Soldier Field.

 Of course, there is nothing wrong with the Bears moving to Arlington Heights. The property would make a great field on which to play the Packers. But taxpayers shouldn’t eat the costs of that move. We already pay when we attend their games. 

But if lawmakers fail to stop corporate welfare schemes like we saw in Chicago and Bridgeview, Arlington Heights residents could end up paying twice.

For further information or an interview, reach Brian Costin at bcostin@afphq.org

Wasteful corporate welfare part of the fiscal problem in Illinois

The One Central Project in Chicago is a giant corporate welfare boondoggle that would hand over $6.5 billion in taxpayer money to private developers.
Brian Costin, deputy state director of Americans for Prosperity-Illinois, writes in a Chicago Tribune op-ed that the project could “exceed the total cost of all corporate welfare projects recorded in modern Illinois history” and “easily dwarfs the maligned payouts for Sears ($275 million) and Mitsubishi Motors ($249 million), which didn’t deliver on promises to taxpayers.”

How did this wasteful project get off the ground? As is so often the case, it began with well-connected interests making a pitch to all-too-receptive lawmakers, Costin explains.
While government funding might be in order if the project were a priority for the city or the region, no public agency had identified a need for it, and hundreds of transportation projects were ranked as more pressing.

“When the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning released its comprehensive regional transit plan in 2014, it announced 53 proposed major capital projects throughout the Chicagoland metropolitan area, totaling more than $80 billion in spending,” Costin writes.” None of those projects included anything in the vicinity of One Central.”
Illinois’ fiscal situation is already dire, with hundreds of billions of dollars in debt and a credit rating just above “junk” status. Decisions like this are part of the reason.
Read more about why the One Central project is a bad deal for Illinois taxpayers in Brian Costin’s Chicago Tribune op-ed.