City Cast

3 Questions With Sports Economist Allen Sanderson

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on June 5
A white man smiles outside

University of Chicago professor Allen Sanderson (Courtesy of Allen Sanderson)

The Bears filed for a permit last week to begin dismantling the Arlington Heights racetrack they purchased in February for $197 million.

But the team says this doesn’t guarantee a move to the burbs, especially with a property tax assessment that’s about six times higher than expected.

The City Cast Chicago podcast spoke with University of Chicago sports economist Allen Sanderson in 2021, when the Bears first publicly floated the idea of relocation about what a suburban stadium could mean for the economy.

A stadium in Arlington Heights could cost up to $2 billion. How much of that would fall on the taxpayer?
“According to the Bears, all of it. They're hoping — whether it's Arlington Heights taxpayers or Chicago taxpayers or Illinois taxpayers — somebody's going to have to cough up $2 billion.”

Why do officials say these big projects will be a moneymaker for cities?
“Do some people benefit from having the Bears in Chicago? Yes. They're operating restaurants, selling meals either before the game or after. People who benefit spend a lot more time with the mayor than you or I do.”

Are there any benefits for cities having sports stadiums?
“The population as a whole watches sports. It's a unifying part of a community. And when we didn't have any people in the seats, that kept us further apart as a society. I think we need some things to rally around, that everybody can say ‘Go Bears!’”

Hey Chicago

Want to know what's happening in Chicago? Sign up for our free newsletter, Hey Chicago. Packed with local news, curated event recs, local life hacks, and more, it's your daily toolkit for getting the most out of the city you love.

3 Questions With

See All