Want to own a piece of Arlington Park? Kitchen Auction Begins Racetrack Clearance

From Arlington Million Room china plates to a popcorn machine, more than 600 pieces of commercial kitchen and catering equipment are among the first items from the closed Arlington Park racetrack to be put up for public auction.

The online-only auction, which kicked off this week and ends Tuesday, is the first in a series of 10 to 15 such events over the next three months as the historic Arlington Heights site liquidates its assets and is preparing to complete a $197.2 million sale. to the Chicago Bears.

“The only way to eat a big apple is one bite at a time. There are a lot of assets there and we will be creating multiple events to sell whatever they would like us to sell,” Judd Grafe said. . , owner and operator of Grafe Auction Co., which was hired by track management to catalog the thousands of items and conduct the public bidding process.

Online bidding for the kitchenware began at greauction.com/event/arlington-park-part-i, ahead of an in-person preview at the track, where the public can view the merchandise between noon and 6 p.m. Monday.

The 645-item bundle ranges from a portable 4-door beverage display cooler for $900 on the high end, to an old metal drinking fountain for a dime. There are meat slicers, food processors, toasters, microwaves, pots, pans, and a host of dishes and glassware.

An eight-selection soda dispenser is $160, a three-tier chocolate fountain for $24, and 6.69-pound cans of unopened cheddar cheese sauce for $2.10.


There’s even a velvet Santa costume for $21.

But what should be more sought after are the nostalgic pieces. The track memorabilia, artwork and bronze are scheduled to go up for auction in mid-September, Grafe said.

This could include things like the finish line post, other post markers, benches and the start gate, he said.

It’s still unclear if it could include the iconic “Against All Odds” bronze statue that pays homage to the inaugural Arlington Million photo-finish.

“Some of them have yet to be identified if they will be sold or moved,” Grafe said. “Arlington Park is owned by Churchill Downs, which owns other properties, so some of the nostalgic elements would be marked for transfer to another property.”

Subsequent auctions will each have an associated preview day where the public can view the items in person, Grafe said.

“You think about all the things associated with a horse trail and you don’t know where that memory is going to come from,” he said. “Someone who has sat in a suite at some point may want a piece of furniture from the suite, and that is their memory.”

Its staff are always on hand to label, photograph and catalog each item for sale, with plans to create new online auctions once the first one is over.

“Each item — and there will be thousands of items — will be offered on a specific day at an event,” Grafe said. “But literally, it’s a lower-level kitchen that we’re selling, one, as an introduction, and two, to get the ball rolling, introduce the process to the community, and introduce the process to the owners. So that’s step one.”

When it issued a request for proposals seeking an auctioneer in February, Arlington projected sales could bring in about $2.5 million in revenue.

The liquidation process is expected to be completed by the end of October.

As the Bears continue their due diligence process for the 326 acres of land they have under contract – and as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot argued this week to keep the team in the city under a new Soldier Field dome – Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said City Hall has yet to receive the team’s preliminary architectural plans for what they envision at Arlington Park.

A first public review of those plans is still tentatively scheduled for this fall, before the purchase is expected to close in early 2023.

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