'Absolutely wonderful': Bears stadium talk excites Arlington Heights business owners, residents
There was plenty of Chicago Bears talk at Arlington Heights businesses Wednesday, after officials with the NFL franchise confirmed they had a $197.2 million purchase and sale agreement in place to buy Arlington Park from Churchill Downs Inc.
Angie Fridono, an owner and the namesake of Big Ange's Eatery on Northwest Highway, said the staff has already been thinking of how the restaurant could adapt to serve a massive crowd of Chicago Bears fans.
"If that means that we have to become a little bit more mobile, we will," Fridono said. "Whatever, because we think that it's going to be great for this community, absolutely wonderful."
On the other side of Arlington Park at Savory Salads on Euclid Avenue, owner Stephanie Dzugan said the news was exciting and she hoped it would help the restaurant.
"I'd love to see how it plays out with traffic and how they're going to handle the flow and everything, but we're trying to think positive about it," Dzugan said.
"Absolutely wonderful" is also how the owner of Cortland's Garage on Vail Avenue in downtown Arlington Heights described the impact of a potential Chicago Bears stadium in town.
"It's going to increase business all around," owner Brian Roginski said.
Even if additional dining and entertainment venues emerge alongside a new stadium, Roginski anticipates there would be more than enough patrons to accommodate downtown businesses.
"You can't beat Metra, which gets you here in under three minutes," he said, referring to the estimated travel time between the Arlington Park and downtown Arlington Heights Metra stops.
"It would be a great addition," Roginski said.
At the Dunton House restaurant downtown, the regulars were throwing around ideas about a new stadium and what impact it would have on the town, good or bad.
Dunton House server and Arlington Heights resident Julie Gordon said building a stadium in town would bring people in to tour the area and see what it has to offer.
"Well, I'm from Chicago, so I suppose I should be torn," Gordon said. "However, since I live in Arlington Heights now, it will be a great way to produce or generate revenue for this great city."
Arlington Heights residents Cal Staker and Charlie Bolser discussed the Bears' potential move to their hometown over breakfast.
"I'm happy about it. I think the village is going to be immensely changed," Staker said. "Hopefully for the better. Probably not 100% for the better. You can't expect that, but definitely better. Definitely, I will go to the games if I can afford to."
Bolser agreed that a move would be a positive, and he is hoping for a domed stadium.
"I look for the Bears to be out here, they will be able to do much better with the facilities. It will be a huge impact on the area," he said.
Ruth Goebbert, 93, of Arlington Heights is sorry to see Arlington Park closing. It's been there since before she was born and she would go twice a year with friends, she said.
But the Bears have been a big part of her life as well.
"The Bears were the first things in our lives," she said. "We could have a wedding, and I went to the wedding and my husband went to the Bears game and would show up to the wedding later."
Wally Schultz of Mount Prospect thinks it's a bit early to see what might happen with the purchase. But overall, he thinks it will be good for the village.
His wife, Kathie Schultz, would like to see a bigger stadium and hopes the Bears will be a better team by the time a stadium is built.
"I think it would be great if it kind of became like a Wrigleyville kind of neighborhood," she said. "Obviously, there are way less games. Arlington Heights can be pretty creative. Let's hope Mayor (Tom) Hayes puts his mind to it and they can get something done."
Caroline Zamarripa, daughter of a Dunton House owner, hopes the Bears players visit and bring new people along to explore the downtown.
Zamarripa said she is not necessarily a current football fan, but she is looking forward to becoming one.
"I'm going to be now," she said. "Hopefully I get to meet all of (the players). That's exciting."
• Daily Herald staff writer Barbara Vitello contributed to this report.