Soldiering off? Bears bid to buy Arlington Park track

NFL team could exit Soldier Field for a new stadium in Arlington Heights

Chicago /
Jun.June 18, 2021 11:25 AM
Chicago Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips and Arlington Park (Getty)

Chicago Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips and Arlington Park (Getty)

Bears may one day roam where horses raced at Arlington Park.

Nearly four months after Churchill Downs announced it was listing the storied 326-acre thoroughbred track in Arlington Heights, the Chicago Bears have submitted a bid.

Team president and CEO Ted Phillips made the announcement Thursday, according to the Chicago Tribune. The NFL team is exploring the possibility of building a new stadium there, and adding other developments to the surrounding property, according to the report.

Churchill Downs began marketing the 100-year-old track in February, after declining to seek a casino license, something it had previously said was essential for the location’s survival. The company’s portfolio includes race tracks — most notably Church Downs, which hosts the Kentucky Derby — along with casinos and online betting. It purchased Arlington Park in a $72 million stock deal in 2000.

Arlington Park’s redevelopment also holds the possibility of new housing. Home prices across the region are climbing and supply is dwindling.

In addition to the Bears, Churchill Downs also said it has received “strong proposals” from other entities, one of which is led by Roy Arnold, who is a previous president of Arlington Park. He told the Tribune he had assembled a team of developers and investors that include Sterling Bay, Ocean Atlantic and GSP Development. Their proposal includes 300 housing units, a 60-acre entertainment complex and another 60 acres for industrial properties, the report noted.

The possibility of a Bears exit from historic Soldier Field in Chicago grabbed the attention of Mayor Lori Lightfoot. She said the team was locked into its lease and expects the Bears to “follow through” on its commitment to the city, the Tribune reported.

[Tribune] — Alexi Friedman 


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