Chicago Bears to Acquire Arlington International Racecourse for $197.2M
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, ILL. — The Chicago Bears have signed an agreement to acquire the Arlington International Racecourse property in Arlington Heights, a northwest suburb of Chicago. The purchase price was $197.2 million, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The agreement raises the potential that the Bears could relocate to the 326-acre property and build a new stadium in the suburbs. The football team’s lease at Soldier Field in Chicago expires in 2033.
“Finalizing the agreement was the critical next step in continuing our exploration of the property and its potential,” says Ted Phillips, Bears president and CEO. “Much work remains to be completed, including working closely with the Village of Arlington Heights and surrounding communities.”
However, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted late last night that her administrative team remains committed to keeping the team in the city.
Arlington International held its last horserace on Saturday, Sept. 25. Owner Churchill Downs announced earlier this year that it was listing the site for sale, and expected any potential buyer to pursue redevelopment opportunities. The property provides direct access to transit, with a Metra commuter rail stop and convenient highway access at Route 53.
“This has been an extraordinarily competitive bid process,” says Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Inc. “We are excited for the opportunity this brings to the village and the future economic development of this unique property.”
The track has hosted thoroughbred horse racing for 93 years. Louisville, Ky.-based Churchill Downs has owned the property since 2000.
Soldier Field originally opened in 1924 and has been renovated several times over the years. Although ideally located along the banks of Lake Michigan near downtown Chicago, it has the second smallest capacity of all NFL stadiums, seating fewer than 62,000. The Bears franchise was founded in 1920 and began playing at Soldier Field in 1971. The Bears have won nine NFL Championships, including one Super Bowl in 1986.
— Kristin Hiller