Arlington Heights Approves Bears Stadium

Horse Racing Radar
Valerie Mellema
Valerie Mellema is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Saturday, June 26, 2021

In late February, Churchill Downs Incorporated announced that they would be selling Arlington Park, along with its 326 acres. Over the months we've seen a few interested parties put in bids for the racetrack. For race fans, the most promising of those was former Arlington Park president, Roy Arnold, who wanted to continue the tradition of horse racing on the track. A tradition that started in 1927. 

Another proposal was from the Chicago Bears who have been talking about moving out of the Chicago South Side for years and into the suburbs. The Bears have been playing at Soldier Field since 1924 and it is the oldest NFL stadium.

The deadline to submit proposals was Tuesday, June 15th. It looks as though the football team is going to win the bid, as Monday night the Arlington Heights village board voted to approve an overlay zoning draft that would allow the football team to build their new stadium at Arlington Park. 

However, there may be some more hurdles for the football team to jump. One is that their current lease runs through 2033 on Soldier Field and breaking it would mean they would have to pay the rest of their rent for the years unoccupied.

There's another interesting twist to this situation as well. After the Bears announced their bid to buy the racetrack, they announced a new partnership with River Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois. Churchill Downs Inc. has a 61% stake in the casino. Rush Street Interactive, Inc., the online arm of Rush Street Gaming jointly operates the casino. The sponsorship deal would make BetRivers and Rivers Casino the official sportsbook and casino partner of the Chicago Bears. It is not clear which came first, the bid on the racetrack property or the partnership with the casino.

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