And they’re off! Racetrack close opens new doors


Art by Marion Krowczyk

For nearly a century, people have flocked to see horses compete at Arlington International Racetrack. Soon, it may be home to the Chicago Bears, and members of the Arlington Heights community have mixed responses. On Feb. 23, the Chicago Bears put in a bid to potentially buy and revamp the Arlington International Racetrack. Although it is well known that the Bears signed a contract to stay at Soldier Field until 2033, many fans in Arlington Heights and its surrounding towns are excited by this news.

For many students, the Arlington International Racetrack is a beloved local establishment that is home to one of the world’s finest racetracks.
“The racetrack is a great place for pictures and sports team banquets,” said sophomore Anna Jarog.

Over the course of the track’s years, it has seen a consistent rate of ticket sales, and interest from the locals. Unfortunately, the racetrack has seen a significant downturn in revenue over the past couple of years, and has decided to close its doors at the end of the season. The track is currently on the market, and bids are being made. The current highest bid is roughly 125 million dollars; however, this number will likely increase significantly by the time the track actually sells. The loss of interest can be attributed to a plethora of factors, but to put it simply, younger generations are simply less interested in horse racing.

The racetrack sits on a large plot of land, so replacing it with a stadium makes logical sense. Because of the Bear’s massive fan base in the area, moving their home stadium to Arlington Heights is by far the favorite option.

“Yes, one thousand percent they should move without a doubt,” said varsity lacrosse coach Mr. Patrick Gaegaer.

This is the attitude of an overwhelming majority of people who live in Arlington Heights and its surrounding areas.

A factor that supports the Bears moving into the track is its accessibility.  On the racetrack’s property is a Metra station, and it is also located off of Highway 53, allowing for easy access between the suburbs and the city. City-based fans can not argue with a location change in terms of location and transportation when there is a Metra line and expressway that runs directly into the back parking lot of the track.

The racetrack sits on 326 acres of land; comparatively, Soldier Field sits on a minuscule seven acres. A larger stadium would also allow for more large-scale concerts and events to be held during the off season.

Building a new NFL stadium would bring about a lot of economic opportunity for the town of Arlington Heights. This upgraded stadium means that that stadium could be considered, and one day chosen, for hosting the Super Bowl. Hosting the Super Bowl is not only an honor, but it also generates economic opportunity for local businesses. Thousands of people would attend, and would require services such as hotels and restaurants.

This would also provide many employment opportunities as it would require many new staff members. That being said, moving locations would mean that some of the current staff at Soldier Field would lose their jobs. In that same way, there may be individuals who currently work at the racetrack who will not be offered a position at the stadium. Yet, even if the Bears can negotiate out of their Soldier Field contract early, renovations would take years to complete. The process of moving an entire NFL franchise from a city to a suburb is one that is timely, costly and tedious.

Despite the excitement around an NFL stadium, there are individuals who do not want to see the racetrack close. The racetrack facilitates a family friendly environment that holds a special place in the hearts of many. Every year, thousands of people go to the racetrack not only for entertainment, but for family time; attending a race or annual fireworks is a tradition for many families.

“It does not really matter what replaces the track,” said senior Ronan Valera. “The track has been a welcoming environment for families for years.”

Although much of the talk surrounding the racetrack includes the Bears, the Bears moving in is not the only option. There are other major companies such as GSP Developments, who have shown interest in the property. A handful of companies that are making bids on the racetrack intend to keep it a racetrack. The racetrack could also be turned into a variety of other venues, such as a concert arena or a basketball stadium. The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to deciding the fate of the racetrack. Rest assured, however, that whatever moves in will, in time, become just as much a part of the Arlington Heights community as the racetrack has been for so many years.