'Long-Term, That Land Gets Sold': Churchill CEO Casts Dark Future Over Arlington Park - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

‘Long-Term, That Land Gets Sold’: Churchill CEO Casts Dark Future Over Arlington Park

The finish line at an empty Arlington Park

Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen made headlines in Illinois on Thursday after comments about the CDI-owned Arlington Park during a quarterly earnings call with investors, reports the Chicago Daily Herald.

“The long-term solution is not Arlington Park. That land will have a higher and better purpose for something else at some point,” Carstanjen said. “But we want to work constructively with all of the constituencies in the market to see if there's an opportunity to move the license or otherwise change the circumstances so that racing can continue in Illinois. For us, we've been patient and thoughtful and constructive with the parties up in that jurisdiction, but long-term that land gets sold and that license will need to move if it's going to continue.”

Churchill declined the chance to pursue casino games at Arlington last year, despite having the opportunity to apply for a slots license at the Chicagoland track last year. Initially CDI had planned to conduct sports betting at Arlington, but now those operations in Illinois will be restricted to Rivers Casino.

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association released the following statement in response to Carstanjen's comments:

“When Churchill Downs reneged on its longstanding commitment to develop a casino entertainment complex at Arlington Park, it deprived Arlington Heights and the state of hundreds of millions of dollars in recurring taxes and upfront license fees that would have resulted from that development. It also stripped families in the suburbs and across the state of the potential for jobs and economic opportunity that would have followed the expected growth in live racing.

“The Illinois gaming expansion law was intended to boost overnight purses and otherwise invigorate thoroughbred horse racing in this state for the purpose of creating jobs, sparking economic opportunity and diversifying the tax base for the state and local communities. But that wasn't good enough for Churchill Downs. Having purchased the majority stake in the nearby Rivers Casino, Churchill opted instead to abandon its Arlington racino plan and instead shield Rivers from the prospect of competition that might result from casino-style gaming at Arlington.

“For Churchill's CEO to say preposterously that Churchill has been “patient” with other stakeholders speaks to the height of Churchill's contempt for the elected officials and working families of Illinois. The very least that Churchill could do is be honest about its true intention: the company cares only about maximizing profit and is happy to sacrifice the spirit of Illinois law and the livelihood of working Illinoisans to serve its greed.”

Delayed first by the coronavirus pandemic and then by a contract dispute with the ITHA, Arlington began a 30-day meet without fans on July 23.



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