Churchill Downs to sell historic Chicago-area racetrack and its 326-acre site Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · February 24, 2021 at 7:21 am Racetrack and casino operator Churchill Downs has put its historic Chicago-area raceway on the market, suggesting the 326-acre site’s future was a redevelopment opportunity. Louisville-based Churchill Downs, which has owned Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights for 20 years, said in a statement Tuesday it had hired real estate firm CBRE to market the complex. The company said it was committed to running the track’s 2021 racing season from April 30 through Sept. 25, which could mark the facility’s final year of operation. The facility began operation in 1927. “Arlington’s ideal location in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, together with direct access to downtown Chicago via an on-site Metra rail station, presents a unique redevelopment opportunity,” Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a statement. “We expect to see robust interest in the site and look forward to working with potential buyers, in collaboration with the Village of Arlington Heights, to transition this storied location to its next phase.” Arlington International was passed over when Illinois expanded gaming throughout the state. Churchill Downs acquired a 50.1% majority stake in the Rivers Casino Des Plaines in 2019 in an effort to expand the company’s presence in Illinois beyond the racetrack, which is located roughly 30 miles from downtown Chicago. Last week, Churchill Downs and Rush Street Gaming announced plans for an $87 million expansion that would increase the size of the casino to 2,000 gaming positions – the first in Illinois to achieve the state’s maximum number. Rivers Des Plaines is roughly 20 minutes from Arlington International. Illinois is home to 10 casinos and a large video gaming market with more than 37,000 games at some 7,100 locations around the state. Carstanjen suggested Arlington’s racing license to another community in the Chicagoland area or elsewhere in the state. “We are exploring potential options with the State and other constituents and remain optimistic that we can find solutions that work for the state, local communities, and the thousands of Illinoisans who make their living directly or indirectly from thoroughbred horse racing,” Carstanjen said. “We are committed to the Illinois thoroughbred racing industry and will consider all options in working toward opportunities for it to continue into the future.” Arlington International was rebuilt after a fire in 1985 at cost of $100 million by the track’s then-owner, Dick Duchossois. Churchill Downs operates casinos in eight states, along with its namesake racetrack in Louisville, which is home to the Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs shares, traded on the Nasdaq, closed at $228.01 Tuesday, up $1.59 or 0.70%. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.