The Chicago Bears have taken a bold step toward rewriting the future of Arlington Park by confirming Thursday they have made a bid to buy the track from Churchill Downs Inc., presumably to replace it with a new stadium.
Statement from Chicago Bears President & CEO Ted Phillips: pic.twitter.com/5ACDDtccWU— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) June 17, 2021
"We recently submitted a bid to purchase the Arlington International Racecourse property," Bears president Ted Phillips said in a team statement. "It's our obligation to explore every possible option to ensure we're doing what's best for our organization and its future. If selected, this step allows us to further evaluate the property and its potential."
The Bears, who have played at Chicago's Soldier Field since 1971, are said to be exploring options for a possible new stadium. The 326-acre site in Arlington Heights is 25 miles northwest of Soldier Field.
Following the announcement from the Bears, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot downplayed the development. She referred to the bid as "a negotiating tactic that the Bears have used before" in order to secure improvements to Soldier Field. Opened in 1924, Soldier Field last underwent a major renovation in 2002.
On the Bears bid to buy Arlington Racecourse... pic.twitter.com/FE6mBHB50U— Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) June 17, 2021
Arlington Park would not be the first racetrack to be turned in to a football stadium if the Bears' bid is successful. The Los Angeles Coliseum was built on the site of a former racetrack in 1923. Most recently, SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, was built on the former site of Hollywood Park.
The only other publicly known bid for Arlington Park came from a group headed by Roy Arnold, who served as president of the track from 2006 to 2011. Arnold's bid would include preserving the racecourse and adding a mid-sized arena "suitable to host a minor-league hockey team," an entertainment district, 300-unit housing development and 60 acres of industrial space.
Parties interested in purchasing Arlington Park were required to submit bids by this week, per a deadline set by CDI. Arlington Heights mayor Thomas Hayes said Wednesday he had met with "less than 10" potential bidders, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.