Former Bears player, now Palatine mayor, wants Chicago team to move to Arlington Heights

The mayor of northwest suburban Palatine says he is rooting for the Chicago Bears to move to neighboring Arlington Heights because it would help his community as well.

Palatine Mayor Jim Schwantz played for the Bears in the 1990s.

The possible move could have an economic impact on several northwest suburbs.


Jan Daczewitz has owned Spunky Dunkers, a popular donut shop on Northwest Highway in Palatine, for 35 years. She says when the Bears are playing at Soldier Field, customers buy donuts for tailgating. So imagine what business would be like if the Bears were playing just a couple miles away.

"They come in here to get their stuff and go down there," said Daczewitz. "We get a lot of business that way. So I think we’d do good. I can’t imagine it would be bad for business."

Last month, the Bears formally expressed interest in building a new stadium on the massive Arlington Park site, one of several potential bidders interested in the 326-acre property after the track closes this year.

And while that would certainly be a boon for Arlington Heights, surrounding suburbs say they would also score big.

"These tracts of land don’t come up very often, with the opportunity to do something this big," said former Bears player Jim Schwantz, now mayor of neighboring Palatine, which borders the Arlington Park complex.

He says a stadium and entertainment complex would have a significant spillover impact on his community.

"The Metra station stops right in Palatine, so if you’re coming from say the northern suburbs, you can shop in Palatine, grab something to eat, jump back on the train and hit the Metra stop right at Arlington Park," said Schwantz.

JL’s Pizza and Sports Bar is just down the block from the Palatine station, and only about 2 miles from Arlington Park.

"Exciting," said owner Dave Gagner. "I hope they can put something together. It would be good for the neighborhood, good for the Bears. I think it would really help our business before and after the games."

Mayor Schwantz said he is not meddling in Arlington Heights’ business and trusts they will make the right decision, but believes that this is not just a leverage play by the Bears. He believes the Bears really want their own stadium.

What is particularly exciting is Arlington Park would become more than just a stadium. It would be part of a larger entertainment district that would be functional year-round and not just for the football season. Some say that alone would really have an impact on nearby communities.