Arlington Park International Racecourse closed in September of 2021 after nearly a century of being in business. It opened in 1927 in the Chicago area and the land was purchased by the Chicago Bears in 2022, which ultimately lead to its closure. The principal CFO of Arlington Park invited Grafe Auction Company in February of 2022 to submit a bid for their RFP. Due to the size and number of items, we initially suggested 17 auctions, even though they thought it could be completed in one event. Churchill Downs, the owner of Arlington Park, eventually agreed to 12-14 auctions to begin August 2nd of 2022. We were able to convince them that this was necessary in order to conduct a successful auction. Due to its age and massive size, there were almost 18,000 lots available for auction. These included:
Due to the sheer number of assets, Grafe Auction Company ended up conducting 20 rounds of auctions spanning 176 days. This event was unique not only due to the size and volume, but also because of its history. Other key factors to exhibit the scope of the project include:
The Grafe Auction Company marketing team knew that it would need to take a multi-faceted approach in order to reach a variety of targeted audiences, because bidders ranged from people who wanted to purchase equipment for their business, to bidders scrambling for a piece of nostalgic history and beyond. The marketing campaign had to change slightly with each event to adapt to the target market, but also remain consistent with the Arlington Park brand. The following pages detail the approach that the marketing team took as well as other aspects of the marketing campaign that lead to the success of the event.
The Arlington International Racecourse was the largest auction lot-wise that Grafe Auction Company has conducted, as well as the largest number of events within one location (20 total auctions). The map shows that the concentration of our website traffic was largely out of Illinois during that period, which is where the auction took place.
The auction website landing page had a stream of visitors that was amplified by the use of Google and Facebook ads, media mentions and links, and by leveraging the use of Grafe Auction’s and Arlington Park’s social media.
An integral part to the success of this auction was the ability to leverage the media. The auction was covered extensively in several news outlets throughout the area, which drove traffic to Grafe Auction Company’s website and ultimately the auction pages. Below are examples of the coverage Grafe Auction Company and Arlington Park received.
Grafe Auction Company successfully conducted 20 auctions for over 20,000 assets of Arlington International Racecourse, using an extensive, multi-faceted marketing approach that targeted different audiences at various stages of the auction process. The marketing campaign utilized:
The success of the auction was attributed to the company's efficient and integral approach, unique items sold, and nostalgia surrounding the venue. The auction attracted bidders from across the country and was the largest auction lot-wise that Grafe Auction Company has conducted. Successful marketing for an auction like this depends on telling the story of the location, and in the case of Arlington International Racecourse, there was a unique story to tell.