Lightfoot Expected To Select Bally’s Chicago Casino Pitch

Bally’s Casino tribune proposal with Lori Lightfoot (Ballys, Getty)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is expected to pick Bally’s bid to develop a $1.7 billion casino project at the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center in River West.

While the deal is not yet final and could still fall through, Bally’s has been the frontrunner throughout the process, which heated up last year when five finalists were chosen, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing unnamed sources.

A deal with Bally’s to bring a massive entertainment center and hotel to the 30-acre newspaper printing site would bring the city’s casino bidding process nearer to a close. When a casino license application is made by the winner to the state, it will mark a step city leaders have contemplated making for decades.

Bally’s CEO Soo Kim told the Tribune he is negotiating final terms with the city and is “cautiously optimism” his company’s project will be moved forward by Lightfoot. Approval from the full City Council would be the next step, and it will probably be contentious. Several aldermen whose wards include or are adjacent to the printing plant site that would be redeveloped have opposed the casino, as have residents and officials of the wards near the other two finalists.

“The one thing that is coming clear to us is that as we’ve made a reasonable amount of progress with the mayor’s office, in the end, we also need to get through the City Council process,” Kim told the Tribune. “So even if they were to announce us soon, we’re just getting started.”

The Tribune report signals setbacks for the other two finalists. Those are related Midwest’s proposal to incorporate a Rivers-branded casino into The 78 development between the South Loop and Chinatown and the Hard Rock proposal to include a casino in the One Central development that would be built over Metra rail tracks next to Du Sable Lake Shore Drive near 18th Street.

Two other proposals to include a casino with Bally’s branding at the truck marshaling yards near the McCormick Place convention center campus and another Rivers-branded casino, that would have had separate ownership from the Related proposal, for McCormick Place were tossed by Lightfoot’s office earlier this year. They were dismissed after the McCormick Place owner, a public commission, raised concerns with those projects.

Lightfoot was holding a meeting with key decision makers Tuesday and is looking to finalize the choice, the newspaper reported.

[Chicago Tribune] – Sam Lounsberry

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