Neighboring Village Wary of Traffic Nearby Bears Stadium Would Bring

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A new Chicago Bears stadium in Arlington Heights — where the team has acquired land to build the proposed $5 billion redevelopment of Arlington Park — would draw in a complication for nearby Palatine: increased traffic. 

Palatine village leaders said the traffic a nearby stadium would bring could boost businesses, but the traffic could also clog the roads, which in turn would tie up not just residents and businesses but emergency traffic, too. 

Mayor Jim Schwantz and Village Manager Reid Ottesen discussed the opportunities, costs, risks and even chances of a Bears stadium Wednesday during the annual State of the Village address hosted by the Palatine Area Chamber of Commerce, the Daily Herald reported

"I can just assure everybody in this room that this is not something we take lightly," Schwantz said. "We're not just (saying), 'Put the stadium up, we can't wait for it, it's the greatest thing ever.' It could bring our community to complete gridlock. And our residents wouldn't be able to get where they need to go. Our police and fire would not be able to get to calls on time."

"It's going to be $1 billion that has to go into the infrastructure to (address) the road network, the water system, the sewer systems, the retention -- we don't want more flooding," he said.

Ottesen said the biggest challenge would be what to do with Northwest Highway, which runs along the north side of the 326-acre racetrack property now owned by the Bears, the Daily Herald reported. Widening the road to handle the additional traffic could mean wiping out businesses there, which is a concern for the community, he said.

Schwantz noted that the traffic would be an issue not only on Bears game days but also for other potential games, concerts and events the venue could host. As an example, he cited "American Idol" contestant and Mount Prospect native Lee DeWyze's 2010 concert at Arlington Park.

"The whole place was gridlocked," Schwantz said.

Schwantz said the Chicago mayoral election might revive the city's hopes of keeping the team.

"Who knows, (the Bears) might reopen discussions with whoever is elected mayor," he said.

The Daily Herald reported thaat Ottesen said he and Schwantz have had three meetings thus far with Bears management, including chairman George McCaskey and former team president Ted Phillips. A meeting last week involved new president and CEO Kevin Warren.

"They've been very forthright, very welcoming with us," Schwantz said. "(We have) a seat at the table whenever we want it. We have George McCaskey's and Kevin Warren's cellphone numbers to get a hold of them whenever we need to."

But, "every time we have a meeting, more questions come out than answers," he added, as reported in the Daily Herald.

Ottesen said he and the village's police and fire chiefs plan to travel to several NFL stadiums to survey conditions, including traffic and surrounding development.

Last week, the Bears released renderings from architectural firm Hart Howerton of proposed developments of the land surrounding the Arlington Heights site. 

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