Arlington International Racecourse kicked off what is likely the track's final horse racing season on Friday.
The track is starting its 2021 season with Opening Day Friday, followed by Kentucky Derby day Saturday. This year's racing season could be the last for the facility, as the owners of Arlington Racecourse announced plans to sell the property to a developer.
According to a press release from Churchill Downs Incorporated, the 326-acre property in suburban Arlington Heights will be sold, and the company selling the property will aim to find a buyer who will redevelop it.
“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. 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,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of CDI.
The race track will host its full schedule of dates from April 30 to September 25. The sale is not expected to be completed before the racing calendar concludes, and the company says any sale is unlikely to impact the calendar.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this season's race days will not include live entertainment events, family days nor carry-in items. The racetrack will also have limited capacity and a face covering requirement.
Tickets go on sale for the following month's race days on the second Wednesday of each month. To purchase tickets, click here.
The track has been a Chicago-area staple for nearly a century, opening in 1927.
It briefly shut down in 1998 and 1999, but it reopened in 2000 after Churchill Downs Incorporated purchased the track and rechristened it Arlington Park. It changed its name to Arlington International Racecourse in 2013.
Owners of the track say they will aim to relocate its racing license to another community in the state of Illinois.
“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 through thoroughbred horse racing,” Carstanjen said.
Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said the city plans to "encourage an exciting new use" for the property.
"Although the Village does not own or control the property, we will be working with CDI and CBRE to encourage an exciting new use that takes advantage of the uniqueness of the property with the goal of putting it to its highest and best use," Hayes said in a statement. "Certainly anything allowed by our zoning and land use regulations is on the table to include some type of mixed-use development or a single-use like an entertainment venue or sports stadium."