Rolling Meadows, Palatine mayors fear Bears-related costs will be passed to their towns

The mayors of Rolling Meadows and Palatine Wednesday formalized their opposition to Bears legislation in Springfield, fearing it would place more than $1 billion in infrastructure upgrades on their backs and that of other local governments.

In a letter to House Executive Committee Chairman Bob Rita, Lara Sanoica of Rolling Meadows and Jim Schwantz of Palatine wrote they have "significant concerns" about how revenues would be allocated from the Bears' proposed Arlington Park redevelopment across their borders in Arlington Heights.

After a hearing on state Rep. Marty Moylan's bill Wednesday morning before Rita's committee, Sanoica vocalized those concerns during her first State of the City address that afternoon at the Meridian Banquet & Conference Center.

"The bill as written does not take into account the full scope of the Bears development. The Bears don't even know the full scope of the Bears development at this time," Sanoica said of the proposed $5 billion project.

To help pay for infrastructure, Moylan's bill would give Rolling Meadows and Palatine 14% each of revenues from sales, hotel, liquor and sports wagering taxes at the new Bears property. Arlington Heights would get 30%, and other Northwest suburban towns would each get 6%.

But Sanoica and Schwantz argued it's premature to try to allocate revenues to the various units of local government in the absence of an infrastructure and traffic study. And without formal development plans being presented, they said it's unknown what their new operating expenses for public safety and infrastructure maintenance will be.

The mayors also raised questions about who would pay for upgrades to state-controlled roads, including Route 53, Interstate 90, Northwest Highway, and Algonquin and Golf roads. They said those improvements easily could cost more than $1 billion.

"Nothing at that site goes unnoticed," Sanoica told the crowd at the Wednesday chamber luncheon. "We are keenly aware of how a mega project like this could completely overwhelm our commercial ecosystem, gridlock local traffic or strain our infrastructure."

Sanoica and Schwantz said they've both had positive discussions with Bears and Arlington Heights officials about infrastructure. But right now, "we do not need state legislation to allow us to work though our development-related concerns with Arlington Heights," they wrote.

Moylan said in an earlier interview that his conversations with stakeholders would continue over the summer in an effort to "make a good bill better."

"We're trying to push it forward ... get it across the goal line, as I would say," said Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat who is a former mayor of the city. "We're making progress. We're listening to what stakeholders have to say and we're making important changes to get to 60 votes. That's what it takes to pass it (in the House). Everybody's not going to be happy about everything, but that's the way it is."

Palatine mayor, a one-time Bears linebacker, favors team moving to Arlington Heights

Regional leaders defer to Arlington Heights on Bears stadium plans

Palatine weighs impact of proposed Bears stadium as village updates long-range plan

'Complete gridlock': Palatine officials wary of what a suburban Bears stadium could bring

'This is not a minor project': Arlington Park teardown to cost Bears $3.8 million

How might Bears advance subsidy bill downfield? By giving Chicago a bigger cut

  Palatine Mayor Jim Schwantz addressed concerns about the Bears' redevelopment of Arlington Park during his State of the Village address March 1. Brian Hill/, March 2023
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.