Bears rushing the end zone on $197.2M Arlington Racecourse deal

Churchill Downs CEO says deal will close in Q1 next year

Arlington Racecourse with Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen (Arlington Racecourse, Churchill Downs)
Arlington Racecourse with Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen (Arlington Racecourse, Churchill Downs)

It’s first and goal for the Chicago Bears, as the organization looks to secure the land for its future home. But it’s still early in the game.

The NFL team’s CEO Bill Carstanjen said the $197.2 million contract to buy the vacant 326-acre Arlington Racecourse is on track for the first quarter of next year, the Daily Herald reported. The deal is currently listed as “pending completion of remaining conditions.”

Carstanjen laid out the timeline on a third-quarter review call with Wall Street investors and analysts, and it’s consistent with estimates from previous earnings calls.

“We are in [the] very beginning of a process to explore what might be possible at the Arlington Park site,” Bears Chairman George McCaskey said during a September community meeting at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights. “There are still many unknowns, including whether we will be able to close on the property, and if we do, whether we will develop it, and if we do, whether that development will include a stadium. We have a long way to go. There will be ebbs and flows with progress and setbacks.”

The team’s plans to leave the historic but uncovered Soldier Field and build a new stadium in the Chicago suburb have unofficial support from multiple board members, but some residents are still hesitant.

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While the Bears have said they would redevelop the site without using taxpayer dollars, the organization has requested local government assistance to subsidize costs of building infrastructure for the entertainment district and mixed use development around the stadium that will include housing, offices and retail. The total project cost has been estimated at $5 billion.

Before the team can officially secure the property, Arlington Heights village officials must sign off on a separate predevelopment agreement the team drafted. The nine-page document that lays out potential zoning changes and public financing requests face a final vote from the village board on Nov. 7.

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— Victoria Pruitt