Trustees: CDI can't prevent post-sale racing at Arlington Park

Trustees: CDI can't prevent post-sale racing at Arlington Park
Photo: Jon Durr/Eclipse Sportswire

The Arlington Heights, Ill., Village Board of Trustees unanimously passed an ordinance preventing Churchill Downs Inc. from putting restrictive covenants on the Arlington Park property that would keep a future buyer of the track from keeping it in use for racing.

Several members of the board spoke out in favor of the ordinance during the meeting.

“We want to make sure that the possibility of horse racing can continue on this site,” Randy Reckous, Arlington Heights village manager said at the meeting. “We don’t know if there’s a market for it, we don’t know if there’s going to be serious interest from other buyers for horse racing, but given that long history, we want to make sure that the village is doing all it can to preserve the option of horse racing being a part of this site.”

CDI announced in February that it would be selling the Arlington property, likely to a developer who would use it for non-racing use. Trainer Larry Rivelli, perennial winner of the Arlington training title, said he and a group of horsemen would try to purchase the track to continue racing

Trustee Robin LaBedz praised the ordinance before it was passed. “It’s kind of like the grocery store that gets abandoned by its grocer, and yet they put a restriction, the space can’t be filled with any other grocery story,” LeBedz said. “Well, we want to make sure that when this property is sold, that there is the possibility of horse racing here.” Another trustee John Scaletta criticized CDI for its perceived lack of commitment to racing. “Became apparent over the years that Churchill Downs has lost their passion for horse racing in Illinois,” Scaletta said. A CDI spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the ordinance. In addition to the ordinance banning restrictive covenants, the board also passed a resolution that would announce that the board intends to change the zoning on the Arlington land, in order to prevent it from being used for something the board would deem undesirable. That resolution also passed by a 9-0 vote. Trustee Jim Tinaglia expressed his support of the resolution, which seeks to stop the use of the land for piecemeal subdivisions and warehouse districts, among other things. “Anything less than the best, in my opinion, is going to be a loss,” Tinaglia said. Arlington Park’s race meet is currently in session, with the final day of racing at the historic track likely to come on Sept. 25.

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