Ideas abound for the future of Arlington Park—from a new football stadium, to an ice hockey rink, to a total renovation of the surface, track and surrounding premises. Mayor Hayes continues to consult with would-be buyers, and read proposals for what could come of the 326-acre property. Even though we won't retain Arlington Park in its existing structure and configuration, there is hope that it can be developed in a way that still showcases the Sport of Kings.
Mayor Hayes Interviewed
Mayor Hayes, 64, is an attorney in his third term as Mayor. In an interview with Horse Racing Nation, Hayes discussed Arlington Park's future in more detail. His obligation as Mayor, he says, is to put the 326-acre property to its best use; to realize maximal revenue potential and protect its legacy. To bring such a result, he requires something unique and exciting.
Hayes isn't without hope that racing shall continue on this property. Although the final decision rests with CDI and not him, Hayes has considerable influence over the the property's progress. It's a positive fact that Hayes recognizes the track has been part of the community for almost century. He spoke of "exciting" proposals for developing the property while maintaining Horse Racing.
One of the big issues with the closure of the track is all the jobs being lost. Arlington Park, he says, has always been one of their major employers and with plenty of seasonal employees. From dining at restaurants to booking hotels, to shopping in stores and volunteer work.
In discussing some of the plans brought to Hayes and what could be built, he revealed not wanting to see a lot of warehouses and industrial uses. He restated the goal of achieving something more exciting and unique.
Ice Hockey Rink at Arlington Park?
One proposal that reached him was to install an ice rink for a minor league hockey team. That would mean figure-skating competitions would be welcomed, and other recreational uses when there are no hockey teams playing. Another proposal continued the idea of developing complementary property to horse racing: more dining, entertainment, and hotels.
Hayes did clarify that although some proposals included housing, the type of housing they did not want to see were the neighborhood single-family types of homes. Obviously this would conflict with the fundamental goal of putting the property to its highest use and maximizing revenue. But housing of a more high-density type, or perhaps senior-living facilities, could be possible. To be sure the housing component would be relatively minimal, he clarified.
Hayes offered dollar figures in terms of what the proposals were working with. Some were under $100 million, some over $100 million. But Hayes is confident that CDI is not merely going by the highest bidder.
Well then. Maybe—just maybe—the CDI is looking for bidders with vision and gratitude for Arlington Park Racing's history? If so, the legacy could continue.
Read the full interview with Mayor Hayes at Horse Racing Nation.