CDI non-committal on future of Arlington Park

CDI non-committal on future of Arlington Park
Photo: Jon Durr/Eclipse Sportswire
The already uncertain future of Arlington Park got even murkier on Thursday, as the track’s controlling owner, Churchill Downs Inc. hosted an earnings call in which CEO Bill Carstanjen was non-committal about continuing to hold races at the track after 2020.

“We’ll run a 2020 race meeting,” Carstanjen said. “We have an agreement to run a 2021 race meet if we elect to do so. That’s not a long-term viable solution for the Arlington Park license.”

Carstanjen said that the license could get moved to another location, and the park itself could be sold.

“The long-term solution is not Arlington Park,” Carstanjen said. “That land will have a higher and better purpose for something else at some point. But we want to work constructively with all of the constituencies in the market to see if there’s an opportunity to move the license or otherwise change the circumstances so that racing can continue in Illinois.”
Related: Churchill Downs' revenue plummets in second quarter

CDI was given the opportunity to apply for a casino license at Arlington last summer, but declined the opportunity, instead opting to keep most of its gambling operations at Rivers Casino, which it owns a majority share in. Rivers Casino is located in Des Plaines, IL, about 13 miles from Arlington Park.

Arlington Park and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen Association had just recently settled a dispute over the size of purses and how purses were distributed. The two sides signed an agreement for the 2020 race meet in June.

If CDI pulls out of holding live racing at Arlington Park, that peace may turn to dead silence for the track, which opened in 1927. However, Carstanjen said that the company is actively looking for a solution.

“The time frame for doing that is not something I’m going to comment on this call today and it’s not definitive,” Carstanjen said. “But certainly, certainly it’s something that’s on our mind on a week-to-week basis if not a day-to-day basis.”

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