Long way to go: Arlington Park sale to Bears now expected to close in first half of 2023

The sale of the 326-acre Arlington Park property to the Chicago Bears is expected to close during the first half of 2023, Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said Thursday.

The Arlington Heights racetrack's corporate ownership provided a brief update on the sale process - and noted the $197.2 million transaction depends on other approvals - during a call with Wall Street analysts to review the Louisville, Kentucky-based company's 2021 year-end business results.

A previous company timeline - when the deal with the Bears was announced last September - suggested the sale could close later this year or in early 2023.

Last month, Bears Chairman George McCaskey and President/CEO Ted Phillips said a due diligence process is underway, but their comments also underscored that the pending contract and stadium redevelopment is far from a done deal.

"The closing on the land probably is going to take the rest of this year, maybe into the first quarter of 2023," Phillips said at the Jan. 10 news conference. "And at that point in time, we'll decide whether it's financially feasible to try to develop it further. And I think what's important now is that our focus for long-term development is exclusively on that property at Arlington Park."

The ongoing sale process for the sprawling acreage at Euclid Avenue and Wilke Road comes as the racetrack's owners prepare to auction the track's surplus assets, goods, vehicles and equipment.

A 12-page request for proposals seeking a company to conduct an auction is on Arlington Park's website. The deadline for interested auctioneers to submit their qualifications is 3 p.m. Monday.

Arlington anticipates that it will bring in approximately $2.5 million in revenue from the auction, according to the document.

The auction would be held sometime in June or later, since Arlington plans to ink a six-month contract with an auctioneer starting June 1.

Churchill Downs classified Arlington Park's assets totaling $81.5 million as held for sale as of Dec. 31, 2021, according to its end-of-year balance sheets released Wednesday.

That annual report also noted the company recorded $1.4 million of severance costs and $3.9 million related to a multi-employer pension liability in conjunction with the announced sale of Arlington Park.

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Bill Carstanjen
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