Jim O'Donnell: Updated odds favor Glenstar and Bears in 'Bye-Buy Arlington Derby'

  • Churchill Downs Inc. leaders haven't disclosed the winner of the Arlington Park sweepstakes, but odds seem to favor the Bears as being part of the process.

    Churchill Downs Inc. leaders haven't disclosed the winner of the Arlington Park sweepstakes, but odds seem to favor the Bears as being part of the process. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

Updated 9/8/2021 2:16 PM

LOGIC AND BEST AVAILABLE INFORMATION are historically two of the biggest banes to the committed handicapper.

Nonetheless, OdeNac the Magnificent -- the spotty sports real estate mystic from the East -- is making the following projection:


On or about Nov. 10, the Chicago Bears -- then 3-6 and in the midst of a bye week -- will participate in the announcement they have partnered with Chicago-based Glenstar Properties to build the new George S. Halas Stadium on a portion of the land currently housing Arlington Park.

The Bears will get the 80 to 100 acres they need for their new grid palace. Glenstar will get to develop the rest of the 326 acres with the team's signature jacking prices and profit.

One day, that prediction may go into the shredder with the same sort of aborted prescience as the networks that called Florida for Al Gore back on Election Night 2000.

STILL, WITH THE BIDDING PROCESS being directed by CBRE for Churchill Downs Inc. said to be in its final stages, nothing else makes as much sense.


• Churchill Inc. gets out as "clean" as possible after its very painful and unpopular impaling of Arlington Park;

by signing up you agree to our terms of service

• The Bears buy as much as a fresh decade to reboot and modernize image as fans lather over the prospect of the new platinum-paw stadium;

• Glenstar and allies rocket toward the top of their class as major league players in large-scale redevelopments.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker also gets off the hook for his predictable noninvolvement in any attempt to save either Arlington or the horse racing and breeding industries in Illinois.

Even officials in Arlington Heights -- who have been paddling in the deep end for months -- get to dip back to less microscoped village matters.

CORPORATE GENTRY INCLUDING George McCaskey and Ted Phillips of the Bears, Michael Klein of Glenstar and even the regionally loathed Bill Carstanjen -- CEO of CDI -- will be hailed as masters of the chase.


That despite the reality the perception will long endure any deal that brings the Bears to Arlington Heights will have hinged on octogenarian billionaires Neil Bluhm and Pat Ryan.

Bluhm is the "threshold partner" who brought CDI to Illinois as majority owner of the Des Plaines/Rivers casino in 2019. That move sounded the death knell for thoroughbred racing at AP.

Ryan -- who owns close to 17% of the Bears -- will have drawn on the same deft energies and brainpower that almost brought the 2016 Summer Olympics to Chicago.

Done deal already?

Who knows?

SO, AS A PUBLIC SERVICE, updated morning-line odds on "The Bye-Buy Arlington Derby" (with a tip of the keyboard to Chris Placek for his hustling reportage in Wednesday's Daily Herald):

Glenstar (with Bears), 9-5 -- When The Daily Herald reported in July Bluhm and Glenstar had a business relationship dating to 2005, there was a feeling the main Arlington sale game was over. ... The fact that Glenstar's bid was first reported in the fawningly Bluhm-friendly Crain's Chicago Business did nothing to dissuade that notion.

Crown Community Development (with Bears), 9-2 -- Legacied Naperville-based offshoot comes in low because: 1) Bluhm and some other big-time Chicago power brokers owe a degree of their successes to the pioneering inroads of the Crown family; and, 2) Crown was the only candidate mentioned by Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes in an exclusive August interview with Ron Flatter.

All others, 7-1 -- Default choice covers all not listed. ... That means any entity from Jeff Bezos to Ariana Grande and LeBron James.

Glenstar (alone), 8-1 -- Tidy coup by Klein and Co. would then somehow have to fulfill its stated goal of preserving "80 acres of open recreational space." ... Without Bears, maybe Glenstar could feature alumni water skiers from the old "Tommy Bartlett Show."

Bears (alone), 12-1 -- McCaskey-Phillips Bears struggle to maintain pace as a 21st century NFL organization. ... And now they're going to go at it alone with a major real estate development project?

Crown (alone), 17-1 -- Any chance by the dark horse is based on the presumption of Bluhm carrying serious water with Carstanjen and CDI. ... And doesn't he already have a pony in the race with Glenstar?

Endeavor Properties, 40-1 -- Lone known "Save Arlington" association still in the process. ... Recent reports that leader Roy Arnold said he's been told by CDI that Endeavor is "one of three finalists" reek of authenticity but also sail against all Carstanjen has been saying about CDI intent since Day 1 of death march. ... Does the phrase "hollow Louisville lip service" come into play?

UrbanStreet, 60-1 -- Earnest Schaumburg company, professional bid, good luck. ... Certainly in line for participation ribbon. ... Could backdoor process with Bears as a partner.

McPeek-Callahan Group, off the board -- Lead force Kenny McPeek acknowledged that The Daily Herald had it right Aug. 26 with report that group was the second one that wanted to save AP. ... But then Kentucky-based trainer brought it all to a halt by adding, "But that was months ago. Months and months ago. We didn't raise any money."

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

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.