3 companies present bids for Chicago casino Thursday

Chicago News

CHICAGO — The five competing bids for a permanent Chicago casino were presented to the public during a marathon meeting Thursday.

Mayor Lightfoot said she wants the winner to be financially viable, architecturally stunning and be guided by the principles of inclusion and equity.

The public and the mayor viewed five proposals from three companies — Bally’s, Hard Rock and local-based Rivers Chicago.

Bally’s has two proposals. The first would be built at the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center for a cost of $1.8 billion. It would feature 3,600 gambling positions, a new 500-room high-rise hotel and a 3,000 seat entertainment venue.

The second would be built on the McCormick Place truck marshalling yard for $1.6 billion. Features would include 3,400 slot machines, six restaurants and a sports museum.

Hard Rock’s proposal would be built at one central site for $1.7 billion — over the Metra tracks near Soldier Field. It would have 3,000 gambling positions, a 500-room high-rise hotel and a music venue.

Rivers Chicago also has two proposals. One would repurpose the famous Lakeside Center of McCormick Place at a cost of around $1 billion. The bid promises 25 percent minority ownership, 2,600 slot machines and 190 table games.

They are also calling for reduced construction by using existing McCormick Place hotels.

The other Rivers Chicago proposal calls for a $2 billion plan in the 78 Neighborhood — which is south of Roosevelt along the Chicago River. Features include 2,800 gambling positions, a 300-room hotel and an option for boat arrivals on the river.

The Lightfoot administration estimates that a new casino will be in operation by 2025 and generate around $200 million a year. The money would shore up underfunded police and fire pensions and create 2,000 to 3,000 jobs.

“The devil’s in the details, and my team is going to do a deep scrub with them to make sure we understand – are these projects really viable?” Mayor Lightfoot said. “We want partnership, but we don’t want to foot the bill for somebody else’s casino. So, they’ve got to be financially viable.”

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The mayor will choose between the five proposals and then present the plan to the City Council. If the council approves it, it then goes to the State Gaming Board for approval.

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