Updates On City Casino Bids As Selection Looms

Rendering of riverwalk component of The 78 casino via Related Midwest

As the city progresses towards selecting a winner of the highly-scrutinized casino deal, more renderings and information have been revealed on the complexities of utilizing some of the city’s existing structures. The five bids submitted to the city last year span from near Goose Island to McCormick Place, come from three companies with hopes to create a gambling, dining, entertainment, and lodging destination that is unique to Chicago’s urban fabric. More in-depth initial information on all of the bids can be found in YIMBY’s previous updates from October and November of 2021.

Rendering of the casino interior via Related Midwest

Rivers The 78 Bid

The bid which seems to be the crowd favorite among many due to its bold vision and super-tall status observation tower is that of The 78 from Related Midwest and Rivers Casino. The JGMA-designed structure will bring a massive casino, a 300-room Equinox branded hotel tower, and a 7,500-square-foot multi-level sportsbook. A few new renderings have been revealed showing more of the structural lattice work within the interiors of the complex, it is worth noting this bid has shown the most from the inside of the space.

Updated map of The 78 via Related Midwest

Rendering of the casino sportsbook via Related Midwest

A new site-plan map was also posted on the 78’s website showing the updated layout of the complex with the casino and new entertainment district emphasized. While the rest of the development shows a small re-arrangement with a central park replacing the once proposed crescent park. More food partnerships have also been listed including with Lettuce Entertain You, Boka Restaurant Group, Ken Kee, and Gibsons who recently announced a new Fulton Market location. Additional information can be found on the bids website.

Context rendering of the Hard Rock ONE Central proposal by Hard Rock

Hard Rock One Central Bid

The next set of details comes from the Hard Rock proposal with a $1.7 billion bid partnered with mega-development ONE Central, who plans to cap the adjacent rail tracks. Earlier this month a website was created for the proposal offering a further look into the project including a claim that the private capital needed for it was already secured. A few days later the website was taken down and now leads to an error page, the site which still shows a rendering can be found here.

Rendering of Ballys McCormick Place proposal by Ballys

Hard Rock One Central, Ballys, and Rivers McCormick Bids

Furthermore, for all bids that planned to use McCormick Place and the Lakeside Center received a hiccup from the McCormick Place CEO Larita Clark who expressed in a Sun Times article that the use of the convention center’s sites would be far more costly and extensive than the developers predicted. Three of the five bids including the aforementioned Hard Rock, and one from both Bally’s and Rivers would be impacted by such.

Rendering of the new entrance of the Rivers restored Lakefront Center proposal by Rivers Casino

Clark expressed that the Lakeside Center is commonly used for events and houses critical mechanical equipment for the whole campus, it would require the replacement of its 600,000 square feet of space and infrastructure which is predicted to cost roughly $1 billion and take six years to complete. The marshaling yards included in Bally’s bid is also crucial to the 35,000 trucks that utilized it to operate the convention complex at near capacity in 2019, among many other issues outlined. However Clark mentioned it is not impossible.

Rendering of the Rivers restored Lakefront Center proposal by Rivers Casino

Although originally predicted that a decision could be made as early as next month, it is unknown when the city will be making its final decision. Construction of the winning bid’s temporary facility is expected to begin soon after the announcement.

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9 Comments on "Updates On City Casino Bids As Selection Looms"

  1. I love reusing McCormick, although it’s a bit isolated. What could be done to connect that site to the city at-large? I’m certain any new-construction casino project will be glassy-gaudy, which is not my taste… At all…

    • There’s a Metra train station under McCormick which is accessible from the central concourse that connects South, North and Lakeside Center. I use it all the time when managing trade shows at McCormick. There’s also two major hotels (JW Marriott and Hyatt) and an arena all connected to the McCormick.

      Personally, I think this is the best idea. I think it would also bring new life to trade shows and conferences held at McCormick, which competes with Vegas for conventions.

  2. Related’s interior rendering looks like it was done by two teams, in two different locales. Does Chicago really need a casino?

  3. The 78 is the only “world class” design, concept and scale of the group. Chicago needs to be globally competitive or even a global leader again instead of a regional powerhouse. They need to select the most ambitious and transformative proposal. After how the Thompson Center was handled I’m not holding out much hope the city will realize what it has on offer.

  4. After reading about each of the proposals, the 78 is the only one that makes sense to me. Alderperson and McCormick Place brass dont want it there. 78 is built on vacant land and the proposal is ambitious. Seems like a no-brainer to me at this point.

  5. We need to tear down (or at least reconfigure/bury) the McCormick Lakeside Center, not build something there that’ll guarantee it remains forever. It’s a blot on the lakefront that should never have been built. I’m a huge YIMBY (and even a supporter of the Lucas Museum plan!) but that land should serve a different purpose both practically and aesthetically.

    Let’s try this:
    1. Give the Casino to the 78 — makes perfect sense
    2. Allow Lakeside Center to operate a temporary casino in the meantime, under the condition that after it’s dismantled as part of a future reconfiguration/demolition of that building
    3. Build more convention space over the railroad tracks or truck marshaling yards, maybe even in partnership with One Central developers.

    Per above, almost everyone gets a little something out of the deal.

  6. Ferris Wheel! Don’t forget to include a Ferris Wheel! Oh, and throw in an aquarium for good measure. /s

  7. These stupid, idiot politicians and their never ending false believe of casino gambling as an economic catalyst. When are these politicians going to get it through their thick heads that casino gambling is a damaging financial drain on a city or community that just helps breed more crime and desperation. Casinos take more money out than they put back in but these politicians are just too damned stupid to realize that proven fact. Look at Atlantic City NJ, after several years of successful profitable casino gambling and that city is still one of the worst in the US. But don’t try to educate Lightfoot &Co of those true facts. Chicago’s brain dead mayor still thinks the city needs a gambling casino when in reality the total opposite is the truth.

  8. RANDY JACOBSON | April 11, 2022 at 4:25 pm | Reply

    So the 78 Casiuno will require a complete redesign of the siteplan that was approved for the TIF. Including the elimination of the large central, Crecent Park that followed the old course of the Chicago River, the key urban design ammenity that tied together the entire approved development. I suppose that during the contested approval process the idea that they may want to do this to never ocurred to anyone.

    Do YIMBY’s feel that it’s apropriate to use $330,000,000 in property tax increment, to fund infrastructure improvements for a casino so that property taxes from the new casino will be used for the development of the 78 instead of funding city government?

    Looks like bait and switch to me.

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