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Churchill Downs Inc. to sell Arlington Park to Chicago Bears

Churchill Downs Inc. has sold Arlington Park to the NFL's Chicago Bears, giving the football...
Churchill Downs Inc. has sold Arlington Park to the NFL's Chicago Bears, giving the football club more leverage as it threatens to leave its Soldier Field location along Lake Michigan.(ChicagoBears.com)
Updated: Sep. 29, 2021 at 2:46 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The NFL’s Chicago Bears have reached an agreement with Churchill Downs Inc. to purchase “the entire Arlington Park land parcel” in Arlington Heights, a suburb about 25 miles northwest of Chicago.

The reported $197 million deal is expected to close late in 2022 or early 2023, according to The Daily Herald.

Owned by Louisville-based Churchill Downs Inc., Arlington Park had hosted horse races since 1927. Its near-century run ended with its final card just Saturday.

“Congratulations to the Chicago Bears for their professionalism and perseverance,” Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a statement on the Bears website. “It is clear they are committed to an exciting vision for their team and their fans. We wish them the greatest success and are excited for the opportunity this brings to the Village of Arlington Heights and the future economic development of this unique property.”

Soldier Field is even older than Arlington Park, by three years, but has been the Bears’ home just since 1971. Its capacity of 61,500 is the smallest in the NFL, and the team has been asking the city for help financing additional seating and other upgrades. Its last renovation took place 20 years ago.

The Bears’ current lease doesn’t expire until 2033. The Chicago Tribune reported this year that the team would owe $84 million if it breaks the lease.

The 326-acre parcel at Arlington would give the team more space and fans access to several casinos in the immediate vicinity, but the Bears’ current home along Lake Michigan in one of America’s most popular downtown areas is a location that’s hard to beat.

The last NFL stadiums to open -- to rave reviews -- include the $5 billion SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

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