Churchill Downs CEO: Sale of Arlington Park to Bears remains on track

The sale of the 326-acre shuttered Arlington Park racetrack property to the Chicago Bears remains on track to close early next year, Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said Thursday.

The head of the Louisville, Kentucky-based horse racing and gambling corporation, which announced a $197.2 million contract with the NFL franchise more than a year ago, said the deal would be completed in the first quarter of 2023 "pending completion of remaining conditions."

Carstanjen provided the update during a call with Wall Street analysts and investors to review the company's third quarter results. He's given the same timeline in previous earnings calls.

Bears Chairman George McCaskey has described the team's due diligence process for the sprawling Arlington Heights property to buying a house, or a lot to build a house, but with a vastly expanded time frame between getting it under contract and closing the sale.

"We are in very beginning of a process to explore what might be possible at the Arlington Park site," McCaskey said during a community meeting Sept. 8, at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights. "There are still many unknowns, including whether we will be able to close on the property, and if we do, whether we will develop it, and if we do, whether that development will include a stadium. We have a long way to go. There will be ebbs and flows with progress and setbacks."

Still needed before McCaskey and team sign the final closing documents is a separate predevelopment agreement the organization has drafted with Arlington Heights village officials. The nine-page document - which suggests future zoning changes and public financing that could make the Bears' $5 billion redevelopment vision a reality - is pending a final vote from the village board Nov. 7.

Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen
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