Jim O'Donnell: A year after Duchossois' death, Arlington Park continues to wilt in the wind

ONE YEAR AGO THIS WEEKEND, Dick Duchossois died at age 100.

Close to 16 months since the Bears participated in the announcement of a "purchase agreement" involving Arlington Park and Churchill Downs Inc., his once regal playground continues to rot.

That balky transition is not in keeping with the classic "Duchossois Way."

Speculation remains that the CDI/Bears maneuver could close "at any time."

But the prospect of the McCaskey Bears moving forward with plans for a new stadium is no longer enough to energize the team's disheartened fan base.

Word that a new owner was moving forward on a fresh football home would likely be met with a gleeful feeling of emancipation.

INSTEAD, THE CAPTIVE SPORTS CITY is apparently supposed to be rooting for a pricey new roost for the historically horizontaling bumble Bears.

Sis-boom, blah.

The Bears could have the first five draft picks in the 2023 NFL draft and sharper soothsayers would project a minimal uptick in their on-field fortunes.

The McCaskey Bears are that dismissible an operation, a ghostly gashouse waiting on an actuarial certainty.

They wheeled in Kevin Warren as their shiny new president and a valid question lingers:

If Warren was such a wizard as commissioner of the Big Ten, why didn't conference overseers try harder to retain his services?

THE IMPLIED STATUS OF WARREN as some sort of new-stadium guru has already been laid to rest.

Yes, he was an executive VP and COO with the Vikings when the team's long road to U.S. Bank Stadium was finally realized.

But equally yes, Lester Bagley - a smooth exec VP, lobbyist and networker - was the organization's "point man" to get that job done.

Warren was an atmosphere enhancer, a cool aide in Norseman-Armani chic.

THE SINGLE GREATEST ACCELERANT on the Minnesota path to a new stadium was a gubernatorial change in 2011.

Republican Tim Pawlenty - fiscally prudent - gave way to Mark Dayton, a Democrat-Farmer-Labor dilettante who is also an heir to the Target Corporation fortune.

Dayton's red-circle brand of "Let's Make a Deal" led to the split of financing for the $1.1 billion stadium between the state, the city of Minneapolis and the Vikings.

Are there any signs of such noblesse oblige about to fall upon the McCaskey Bears?

SO DICK DUCHOSSOIS'S ONCE STUNNING racing palace is now merely an open wound in the civic psyches of Arlington Heights and adjacent municipalities.

Years ago, when the turf was lush and "RLD" ruled with feist and fervor, Sheldon Robbins - one of three who partnered with Duchossois to purchase AP from Gulf & Western in 1983 - said:

"If Dick can figure a way to take his racetrack with him, he will."

At age 100, he did.

Now, only a shell of post-time dreams and infrastructure schemes wilts in the wind.


STEVE ROSSDEUTSCHER INFORMS that the deadline for Mid-Suburban League wrestlers to apply for grants of $500 or more through the Kevin Rossdeutcher Foundation has been extended to Friday, Feb. 3.

Kevin Rossdeutcher was a champion grappler at Prospect High and Harper Junior College. He died far too young in 2007.

Besides Steve Rossdeutcher, committee members include: Tyler Rossdeutcher, Bobby Whisler, Mark Toljanic, Dave Mallon and Andy Bennett.

Applications are available through all MSL wrestling coaches and at


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• Jim O'Donnell's Sports and Media column appears Sunday and Thursday Reach him at All communications may be considered for publication.

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