Historic horse racecourse Arlington closed
Early last week, the historic Arlington racecourse closed its doors. The reason, according to many, is wry. The recently installed slot machines at the Chicago racetrack bring in more than the revenue from sports betting. The 94-year-old track is being sold to a developer.
In the fall of 1927, the racecourse opened in Chicago, the third largest city in the United States. The Arlington International Racecourse, as the track is fully named, was founded by Harry D. Brown, a businessman from California. Over 20,000 spectators attended the opening at America's most beautiful track, reported https://cricketbetting10.in/free-bets-india/.
And it became a legendary track, located along the railroad tracks at Arlington Heights. The historical facts surrounding Arlington are too numerous. For example, it was the first horse race track where the prize money exceeded $1 million.
Recently, several horse enthusiasts made comparisons to Hollywood Park. However, that equally historic racetrack had been struggling to keep its head above water for years. It had been rocking from peak to peak for years at long intervals. That Holland Park was demolished after 75 years to make way for SoFi Stadium was no surprise to anyone.
But Arlington, which may now also await such a fate, is a modern track. After a fire in 1985, it was almost completely rebuilt. It is still among America's premier racing venues. Two years ago, when the state of Illinois changed the existing gambling rules, slot machines came to the racetrack to make Arlington attractive to other visitors as well.
It is those slot machines that now determine Arlington's future. Yesterday the curtain fell on horse racing. But demolition or not depends on other factors. Like share prices, revenue after Covid and the like.
Ok, some say, with only horse racing it was no longer earning. Slot machines brought relief there. Irreverently, one horse lover writes, "there came an uneasy relationship between sports betting and device gambling. In the former, analysis and knowledge gives the bettor a chance to win and the operator might keep some. With a slot machine, the operator simply sucks his percentage of revenue out of a gambler's pockets.'
Churchill Downs Inc, the owner of Arlington, saw profits rise again after installing the slot machines. It then opened other gambling establishments and took over existing casinos. It turned out to be lucrative business.
After they also acquired Rivers Casino, a 20-minute drive from Arlington, the math was quick. Stop with Arlington and lure the gamblers to Rivers. The racetrack became obsolete.
When the termination was announced in mid-June, many rumors erupted. In the process, many took up the word demolition. But that is not a certainty at all.
It is certain that Churchill Downs Inc. will sell. In doing so, it is targeting developers with plans to redevelop the 326-acre estate. Several plans have already been submitted. However, the current owner would not tell how many and by whom.
What is known is that the Chicago Bears, the American football team, wants to be one of the developers. Their plan, developed within a consortium with others, consists of a sports stadium and preservation of the horse race track. The Chicago Bears' leadership has been crying out for years that they want to get out of the city to better accommodate their audience in a suburb.
The spokesman for the current owner says Churchill Downs aims to make a decision by the end of the year. That's all he wants to say about it. What does shine through in his "no comment" is a world of trade-offs.
For example, the state could have helped much earlier, by allowing slot machines at Arlington years ago. Some of the proceeds would then have flowed to horse racing. Unless the administration considered that to be "carrying water to the sea" or "pulling a dead horse.
The latter is perhaps more appropriate. Not only because of that horse. But also because betting on horse racing in America has long lagged well behind the growth of other gambling opportunities. In fact, betting on horse racing is in steep decline, especially attendance numbers.
The heyday of 20,000 visitors has not been reached for a long time. Last week, on the last day, 7,000 people came to Arlington, mainly for nostalgic reasons. Or perhaps to be able to play one last slot machine for the time being.