The Bears are paying $197.2 million for the Arlington Park property in a sale not expected to be completed until late next year or early 2023, according to a Churchill Downs press release announcing the agreement this morning. The track, located in Arlington Heights, is about an hour’s drive north of the NFL team’s current home of Soldier Field in downtown Chicago. The news isn’t unexpected: In June, Bears CEO Ted Phillips tweeted that the organization was bidding on the property.
Publicly traded Churchill Downs is looking to raise cash to focus on better growth opportunities, mainly expanding the namesake racetrack, home to the Kentucky Derby, and expanding its gambling business, which operates in eight states. The Arlington Heights property was put up for sale in February, and management had previously told analysts it had received multiple bids for the parcel. If the deal closes, it will improve Churchill Downs’ cash position significantly: The business had $67 million cash on the books at the end of 2020, and more than $1.6 billion in long-term debt.