The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

The Bears Owe Cook County $4 Million In Back Taxes

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 7, 2014 7:00PM

Photo credit: Jonathan Lurie

An Illinois appellate court ruled Thursday the Chicago Bears owe Cook County $4.1 million in delinquent amusement taxes related to revenue from club and luxury seats at Soldier Field between the years 2002 and 2007. Considering the Bears can sell out Soldier Field with ease and the revenue sharing system in the NFL, they can afford to cut a check.

During that period in question, the Bears tacked a “club privilege fee” on club seats, covering amenities such as parking, game day programs and access to lounges. For luxury suite tickets the club assigned a value to a seat in a suite equivalent to the highest price for a seat in Soldier Field. The Bears, however, failed to calculate taxes based on the annual cost of a luxury suite, nor did they charge amusement tax on the club privilege fee, which they classified as “non-amusement services.”

Attorneys for the county argued the Bears should have charged amusement tax on the face value of the club seat tickets and suites. The court, in its ruling, sided with the county. First District Appellate Court Justice Mary Anne Mason wrote in the ruling.

“The absurdity of excluding the vast majority of ticket revenues from the amusement tax when the generation of those revenues is driven by fans’ desire for the ‘privileges’ associated with premium seats renders the Bears’ position untenable.”