chicago politics

Chicago Casino Timeline: Next Step in Bally's Casino Approval To Take Place Monday

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Bally's Corporation last week was selected by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to receive the city's only casino license, but the deal still has a ways to go before becoming official.

The casino, set to be located in River West, beat out two other billion dollar bids: one from Hard Rock to build a casino just west of Soldier Field, and one from Rivers, which would have built a casino in the South Loop.

But before the $1.74 billion dollar project -- set to take over the site of the industrial Tribune Publishing Plant -- moves forward, it must be approved by the full City Council, and the Illinois Gaming Board before it can move forward.

In addition, a meeting where the public can weigh in is scheduled for Thursday.

Next Steps for Bally's Chicago Casino

May 9: City Council and Special Committee

According to a press release from Mayor Lightfoot's office, a subject matter hearing for an "Alderman special committee" to ask questions about the selected casino finalist will take place Monday at 11 a.m.

The committee will consist of all the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of City Council
Committees, as well as President Pro Tempore Alderman Brendan Reilly, 42nd
Ward. It will be chaired by Alderman Tom Tunney, 44th Ward, and vice-chaired by Alderman Jason Ervin, 28th Ward, the press release said.

All of the City Council will be involved in the process for the final recommendation.

May 12: Public Town Hall

The public can provide input on May 12, on the Bally's project at a community town hall at the UIC Isadore and Sadie Dorin Forum at 725 W Roosevelt Rd. from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. According to the Eventbrite page, "representatives from the city and Bally’s Corporation will be there to share additional information, respond to questions, and hear from community members."

Registration for the event is free.

When the Casino Open?

A press release from Mayor Lightfoot's office did not specify dates. The permanent location is expected to take several years to redevelop.

The casino's temporary location would open first.

Where will Chicago's Bally's Casino be Located?

The casino project and hotel is expected to be built on a portion of the site of the current industrial Tribune Publishing Center at Tribune Publishing Plant in the River West neighborhood, at N. Halsted St. and W. Chicago Ave.

However, that site needs to be redeveloped.

According to the press release, Bally's will open a temporary casino in River North at the Medinah Temple, located at 600 N Wabash Ave -- the former site of a Bloomingdale's Home Store -- would open first, until the Tribune site can be constructed into a permanent spot.

Chicago's Bally's Casino, By the Numbers

The $1.74 billion dollar project includes:

  • A 3,000 seat theater
  • An extension of the Riverwalk and pedestrian bridge
  • A 500-room hotel tower
  • An Outdoor park and music venue
  • A fitness center, sun deck and pool spa
  • Six restaurants and a food hall
  • 3,400 slots
  • 170 game tables
  • Nearly 3,000 permanent jobs

As part of its proposal, Bally's offered the city $40 million up front. and $4 million per year after that.

The city estimates a casino will bring in $200 million a year in tax revenue -- money that is earmarked for police and fire pensions, according to officials.

According to officials, Bally's has committed to 60% minority hiring for its nearly 3,000 jobs.

Who Supports it? Who is Against it?

Several officials, including Ald. Brian Hopkins, say that the Bally’s project has been the frontrunner all along, and they are expressing concerns about the process that led to the decision.

“[Mayor Lori Lightfoot] said she’s made no decision, (but) she’s going to come out tomorrow and not explain the justification for it,” Hopkins told NBC 5 Wednesday, before the announcement was made. “I’m calling foul on this right now.”

Hopkins’ ward is located just to the north of the site, which is situated along the Chicago River on a plot of land formerly used as a publishing plant for the Chicago Tribune.

Ald. Walter Burnett of the 27th ward said in a press release that he supports the project.

“It will be a world class entertainment destination that provides jobs, boost tourism numbers and brings a host of incredible amenities into the 27th ward. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the city of Chicago and it will be a premier destination for generations to come."

Area residents have expressed skepticism about the viability of the site, and homeowners’ associations have pushed back against the plan.

“I think it’s a little odd of a location, because there’s not much public transit around here,” one resident said.

The neighboring River North Residents’ Association is overwhelmingly opposed to a casino deal. According to a survey, more than 85% of of people there said they'd rather not have a casino there.

“I think Chicago is one of the great American cities, and I think we can do better than this,” Brian Israel, who represents the association, said.

What Will it Look Like?

Renderings show an extension of the Riverwalk, pedestrians enjoying a sundeck and outdoor park, as glossy 500-room hotel and more.

Provided by Jasculca Terman Strategic Communications

A rendering of the Bally's Corporation Casino in Chicago's River West neighborhood
Provided by Jasculca Terman Strategic Communications

A rendering of the Bally's Corporation Casino in Chicago's River West neighborhood
Provided by Jasculca Terman Strategic Communications

A rendering of the Bally's Corporation Casino in Chicago's River West neighborhood
Provided by Jasculca Terman Strategic Communications

A rendering of the Bally's Corporation Casino in Chicago's River West neighborhood

Which Other Casinos Submitted Bids?

Hard Rock (ONE Central Site), West of Soldier Field – Hard Rock proposed a $1.74 billion casino resort just to the north of McCormick Place on Chicago’s lakefront.

The proposal included a 3,500-seat live music venue, a 500-room hotel tower, restaurants, six different bars and lounges, and more than 3,000 slot machines and 166 gaming tables.

Rivers (78), South Loop, including Chinatown and Pilsen – Rivers 78 proposed a $1.62 billion casino project on the site known as “The 78,” a large development on Chicago’s South Side. The proposal included a riverfront area, an observation tower, a riverfront venue for live entertainment, a 300-room hotel tower, eight different restaurants, more than 2,600 slot machines and 190 table games.

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