The future for the Chicago Bears looks bright both on and off the field. The Bears organization closed on the land at Arlington Park last month, which brings plans of building a Bears stadium at Arlington Heights closer to reality. And, it could be home to an Illinois sportsbook.
But, there are some concerns over the team’s potential move from downtown Chicago to the suburbs. There are worries over the impact building a new stadium will have on the infrastructure in town. There are also some concerns from locals over the amount of traffic they’ll be seeing from the crowds of people that will flock to the area once a stadium is built there.
New Bears stadium could gum up traffic in Arlington Heights
Games at Soldier Field are something the people in Chicago have gotten used to. Everything changes if the team moves to Arlington Heights.
A recent state of the village address in Palatine, a suburb just northwest of the Arlington Park property, raised concerns about traffic and infrastructure issues the stadium could bring. Village Manager Reid Ottesen said it could bring their community to complete gridlock, and residents wouldn’t be able to get where they need to go. He added that their police and fire departments might be unable to get to calls on time.
Palatine mayor Jim Schwantz said that the traffic on the roads would be an issue not only on Bears game days but also for potential college basketball and football games, concerts and other events. Ottesen also says that he and the village’s police and fire chiefs plan to travel to several NFL stadiums to survey conditions, including traffic and surrounding development.
Officials in nearby Rolling Meadows say they are “cautiously optimistic” about the Bears coming. City manager Rob Sabo says they are happy about the opportunities for commercial development but are concerned about the costs.
Additional traffic and accidents due to the development would require extra police and fire personnel, equipment and emergency calls. There are also worries over drivers cutting through residential areas to avoid the main highways during events. The increased traffic could also mean new road and sewer projects.
Some residents say a Bears move could bring more headaches
The usage of 326 acres worth of land filled with screaming Bears fans will undoubtedly bring brand-new amenities that will also reel in an overflow of people. A new stadium will likely attract more businesses looking to set up shop nearby and take advantage of the increased foot traffic.
However, some folks living in the area say the stadium would bring more problems. Local resident Jessica Hauth spoke with a local TV station.
“With the traffic that will be coming here, where people are coming from, what’s it going to do to the neighborhood, the late nights?” said Hauth. “People get drunk and stupid.”
Matt Sells lives just a few blocks from the proposed entertainment complex. He says he has some doubts about the project. He wonders if his quiet Arlington Heights neighborhood could drastically change. Sells said:
“If they can’t find a way to not disturb the residents and still do that, it might be not a good thing for us.”
Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears organization says that a move to the area would create thousands of jobs and $1 billion in the regional economy.