Bears President Ted Phillips Gives Update On Arlington Park Quest

Written By Joe Boozell on January 12, 2022

Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey conducted a press conference on Monday to announce the firings of former head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace.

And as is tradition with Bears postseason press conferences, it didn’t go, shall we say, well. McCaskey gave Chicago sports radio and Twitter plenty of fodder.

With that said, McCaskey announced a change in the future organizational structure, which many will view as a positive step.

Instead of reporting to president Ted Philips, as has been the case, the new general manager will now report directly to McCaskey. The reason? So Phillips can focus more on the team’s desire to purchase Arlington Park and move to Arlington Heights.

Phillips confirmed on Monday that the team is not currently looking at any other site for a possible relocation. At this point, it’s Arlington Heights or bust.

He said:

“There’s nothing else like it in Chicagoland. So the opportunities — you know, we haven’t even begun to envision what it could be. But we’re hopeful, if we close, that we’ll be moving forward with turning it into a wonderful destination site.”

And continued:

“Again, the timing of it we don’t know because we haven’t even closed on the land. [If] we don’t close on the land, then all that vision won’t come to fruition. But we’re excited it could be an entertainment destination with multiple facets to it that I think could really help put Arlington Heights on the map as a destination spot.”

While the team has a purchase agreement with seller Churchill Downs for the land, there is still a long way to go.

McCaskey called the opportunity ‘‘an outstanding, long-term proposition with high potential for the Bears.’’ However, he also stressed that the team does not own the property yet and that some questions are premature.

How the Arlington Park sale got to this point

Early in 2021, Arlington Park owner Churchill Downs put the track up for sale. It then conducted a bidding process throughout most of the year.

Certain potential buyers wanted to keep horse racing at Arlington Park. However, based on its actions, it’s reasonable to say that Churchill Downs had no desire to continue horse racing at the facility.

Churchill Downs owns a majority state in Rivers Casino Des Plaines, the most popular casino in Illinois. Rivers is less than a half hour’s drive from Arlington Park, and any type of gambling that close could hurt Churchill Downs’ bottom line.

Then, Rivers became the official casino partner of the franchise. We then learned that the Bears bid on the property, and a few months later, Churchill Downs and the Bears came to a purchase agreement.

The franchise will pay $197.2 million for the land if the deal finalizes.

Can you bet on Bears next head coach/GM at Illinois sportsbooks?

While some NFL teams are preparing for the playoffs, all Bears fans have to look forward to is the team’s future coach and GM.

However, there are no lines available for these positions at legal Illinois sportsbooks.

BetMGM Sportsbook, which should eventually be in Illinois, has the following head coaching lines. Recent Dolphins headman Brian Flores is the clear favorite to land the gig:

  • Brian Flores: +160
  • Leslie Frazier: +500
  • Brian Daboll: +600
  • Jim Harbaugh: +700
  • Doug Pederson: +800
  • Bryon Leftwich: +1,000
  • Todd Bowles: +1,000

BetMGM is available in surrounding states Indiana, Michigan and Iowa.

Chicago is interviewing a wide range of GM and head coaching candidates. If the Bears hire a GM first, which is typical, these odds could move quite a bit.

Photo by AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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