If the Chicago Bears do build a fantastic new stadium on the Arlington Park grounds in Arlington Heights, they'll be the new bears on the block. Across Rohlwing Road, on the Rolling Meadows side of the street, sits the den of BEAR Construction Co.
Founded in 1984 in Arlington Heights by brothers Nicholas, James and George Wienold, the construction company didn't set out to be BEAR.
"It was a fluke," says James S. Wienold, 59, the president of the family business. State officials rejected their first choice for the name of their business -- WWW -- even though it would be a few years before the World Wide Web laid claim to those initials. The brothers rooted for the Chicago Bears and Chicago Cubs and admired bears in nature, so BEAR was their second choice.
"We never thought that would be available in Illinois," remembers Wienold, who was delighted to set up shop as BEAR.
And as their firm's home page shows, they made the initials stand for something, too: Believe, Energy, Achieve, Respect.
A stuffed animal bear, wearing a Chicago Bears shirt, greets visitors to the 36,000-square-foot office/warehouse. A wooden bear stands in the lobby, underneath a couple of paintings of dancing bears. Having the Chicago Bears across the street would be fine with him, Wienold says.
"It would save the headache of driving downtown to games," says Wienold, a season-ticket holder who left his home in Palatine at 8 a.m. Sunday to beat game-day traffic to Soldier Field in Chicago in time to tailgate with employees. The company owns about a couple of dozen tickets, mostly used for customers, from the end zone to the 45-yard line. "We're sprinkled all over the place," Wienold says.
So is BEAR, which has two offices in Chicago and others in downstate Bradley and Champaign, and in Milwaukee.
Some employees, including relatives, live in the city, and Wienold acknowledges that a Bears' move to the suburbs would be a loss for Chicago, where BEAR does plenty of business.
With more than 200 employees and an annual revenue of $300 million, BEAR has built more than 170 million square feet of space in hospitals, colleges, drug companies, banks, industrial companies and other businesses in the city, suburbs and beyond.
If the Bears are going to move out of Soldier Field, Wienold is happy they might be his neighbor in the suburbs.
"All these big football teams, they are all in the suburbs," Wienold says. The San Francisco 49ers play in Santa Clara, which is 43 miles away from the city on the other side of the bay. The Dallas Cowboys play in Arlington, Texas. The Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Chargers and Rams, Buffalo Bills, Las Vegas Raiders, Washington Football Team, and the New York Giants and Jets all play in stadiums built outside the cities in their name.
Online searches for "bears" turns up the story of Fat Bear Week 2021 in Alaska, where a beast named Otis won the title for the fourth time on Tuesday, probably because the ladies all love him for his body and his mind. After that, bear talk centers on speculation about the Chicago Bears' future.
If the Bears spend a couple of billion dollars on a new domed stadium, Wienold says he hopes BEAR could get a piece of all that new construction.
"It would be good for the community, and we're part of the community," Wienold says. "Maybe small hotels and restaurants. Could we possibly get one of those? We'd hope so. I think it would be a boon for the whole area."
Given the choice between the racetrack or the Bears, "I would take the Bears, no doubt about that," Wienold says. Even when he did go to Arlington Park for the races, the main draw was a restaurant that closed in 2018 but bore the name of a Chicago Bears' legendary player and coach.
"We went there a lot," Wienold says. "We were regulars at Ditka's."