Jim O'Donnell: Arlington Park already sold? Please hold all tickets

MAYBE IT'S ALL ABOUT the residual energy and giddiness of a three-day holiday weekend.

And maybe it's not.

In any case, multiple sources - at least one with a high degree of credibility - are reporting that Churchill Downs Inc. has reached "an agreement in principle" to sell the 326 acres and buildings that continue to house Arlington Park.

No one would or could indicate the purchaser.

CDI chairman Bill Carstanjen previously announced bids on the legacied oval would be accepted until June 15.

Carstanjen and associates had no reply to a request for confirmation or denial of the apparent speculation du jour.

But on Wednesday, Mayor Tom Hayes of Arlington Heights told The Daily Herald:

"We have not heard anything regarding a confirmed or even imminent sale of the Arlington Park property. I would be very surprised if they did not entertain proposals as intended (to) June 15. We do expect to be consulted given what control we do have over intended uses."

As indicated in a recent Daily Herald editorial, the most potentially impacting standard-bearer of any eleventh-hour "Save Arlington" movement is Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

But "Silent Jibbs" has yet to publicly state a position on the possible end of the 94-year-old racetrack.

His administration holds significant leverage over CDI. The Louisville-based corporation continues as majority owner of the Des Plaines/Rivers Casino, one of three finalists for the new Waukegan casino license and a reported hopeful for profit participation in a future temple of chance in Chicago.

Carstanjen and visiting gold panners also have repeatedly expressed the "possibility" of moving the Arlington racing license elsewhere in the state.

That's a boast that would make more strong-willed governors bristle - the idea that CDI "owns" a transferable license of privilege to conduct horse racing in the state of Illinois.

While CDI chieftains could make any announcement they want whenever they want, two factors mitigate for nothing being made public until after the Fourth of July:

• The Kentucky dollar hunters will be engaging in a grand gouge for the July 3 fireworks show at AP. Individual seating begins at $40 and extends up to $150; and,

• CDI's second-quarter investor earnings call will likely be held sometime between July 7 and 16.

In the meantime, unless Gov. Pritzker assertively comes down on the side of self-determination for the residents of his Illinois, please hold and get ready to fold all tickets on the future of Arlington Park.

STREET-BEATIN': White Sox GM Rick Hahn came across like a man waiting on 4th Street with pocket aces and another on the flop during his "state of the clubhouse" Zoomer this week. (With Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez sidelined, the team's opening two months have been resolute.) ...

For the sake of comparison, Ozzie Guillen's championship-bound 2005 South Siders were 35-17 entering June. Tony La Russa's current fireworkers would have trailed by 3 games at 33-21. ...

With the end of Mike Krzyzewski's long run at Duke finally in sight, Northwestern's Chris Collins finds himself in a tough strait. Ten years ago, as the loyal lead assistant of "Coach K," he was heir apparent and had passed on a chance to assume the reins at Indiana. Now, Collins is perceived as roughed-up goods. ...

Charismatic Candace Parker's debut weeks with the Chicago Sky have not been the stuff of fairy tales. The Naperville native has missed six straight games with an ankle sprain, has yet to play at Wintrust Arena and James Wade's brigade is 2-5. ...

Hawk-eyed Taylor Bell noted St. Viator's miraculous 1965 run to a second-place finish in the Illinois High School Association state baseball tournament was played in East Peoria and not Peoria. And, Bell added, young Bob Frisk stayed with relatives in Pekin to save the weekly chain of Paddock Publications newspapers a few bucks in travel expenses. ...

Dave Corzine, on the sad passing of Utah's 7-foot-4 Mark Eaton: "To me, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was tall. But guys like Mark and Manute Bol and Shawn Bradley were giants." (Corzine is only 7-feet tall.) ...

A gent walked into Arlington Trackside and bet $56K to show on a Kevin Patterson runner at Charles Town (W.Va.), the last jurisdiction in America with a $2.20 minimum payout on show wagers (rather than $2.10). The horse hit, the man walked out with his profit and one of his partners reportedly celebrated with a pizza from the iconic Wayne's in Arlington Heights. ...

And ESPN morning glory Alan Hahn, on the shaky status of Aaron Rodgers with Green Bay fans: "Those 'Go Pack!' lawn signs could be more about moving instructions than any cheerleading."

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has had little to say about the future of Arlington Park. Associated Press
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