Update: City Narrows Down Casino Bids To Final Three

Updated rendering of Hard Rock One Central bid via Hard Rock Chicago

Updated renderings and details have been released for two of the five casino bids hoping to win as the city progresses to select a winner later this year. As plans continue to be flushed out leading up to the decisions, the bidders forge partnerships in hopes of impressing city council. YIMBY provided past updates on all plans in October and November of 2021 and this last February when McCormick Place expressed their concerns with plans using their site. Read more about the three-finalist.

Update: During the day of publishing this article, news broke via Crain’s that Mayor Lori Lightfoot has narrowed down the five-bids to the top three finalist, delaying the final decision originally expected anytime, and as early as this March down the road. Gone are the two major bids planning to utilize parts of McCormick Place itself including the Rivers Casino bid for the Lakeside Center and the Bally’s bid for the Marshalling Yards, although a report by the city didn’t call out the issues brought forward by McCormick Place as reasoning. Further new details will be called out with a bolded ‘update‘ prior.

Updated rendering of Hard Rock One Central bid via Hard Rock Chicago

Hard Rock One Central Bid

Perhaps the biggest update recently is that of Hard Rock’s bid. Last month we reported that a website had been created and then taken down for the proposal, and now the website is back up with further details. The $1.7 billion project would partner with the One Central mega-development in its plan to cap the existing rail lines with housing, office, and entertainment, while utilizing McCormick Place as a temporary facility. The updated website can be reached here.

Rendering of outdoor pool area of Hard Rock One Central bid via Hard Rock Chicago

The property would feature 500 rooms, a massive gaming floor with ‘Asian Gaming’, 14 food destinations including a new Hard Rock Cafe location and food hall, an outdoor pool, and a 12,000-square-foot nightclub. It has also been revealed that the 3,500-seat Hard Rock Live venue would be in partnership with Live Nation, which operates Chicago staples like the Aragon Ballroom and House of Blues. This comes right after rival AEG who operates nearby Wintrust Arena and Soldier Field announced their partnership with the Congress theater redevelopment.

Rendering of hotel rooms of Hard Rock One Central bid via Hard Rock Chicago

Another detail revealed is their new economic opportunity program dubbed SouthSideWORKS, a partnership with the Chicago Urban League whose goal is to achieve equity for Black families and communities. Funds will be used in three ways; community development, community training & education, and community investment, which will be a 20-year commitment to a dedicated revenue stream from One Central and its lenders to close the wealth gap through affordable housing and community development projects.

Update: Originally planning to utilize the lakeside center as its temporary facility, the city has disclosed that they are looking at multiple other options for the Hard Rock to use, including other convention buildings at McCormick place, the Medinah Temple (Previously Bloomingdales home store) in River North, and the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Streeterville. If chose, this joint-venture proposal will bring in roughly $185 million in tax revenue after six years, sitting in the middle of the three finalist.

Saint Patrick’s day rendering of The 78 Casino Bid via Related Midwest

Rivers The 78 Bid

With St. Patrick’s Day just having passed, The 78 developer Related Midwest revealed new festive renderings for the casino proposal showing a green-dyed river and festive banners across the base of its planned observation tower. An Instagram post for the project shows a celebratory bagpipe band around the rendering for the project with the caption, ‘We can’t wait to see you at the groundbreaking!’ It is unknown if this is for the casino or other aspects of the mega-development. The Chicago Tribune also recently published an editorial in support of the bid.

Update: The River 78 bid will be the smallest in terms of gambling offering 2,800 gambling positions and projected to bring in the least tax revenue after six-years at $174.2 million. The height for its observation tower was also confirmed at 1,078-feet tall, aligning with the 78 name of the mega-development.

The 78 (orange)

The 78 (orange). Model by Jack Crawford

The 78 (orange)

The 78 (orange). Model by Jack Crawford

The 78 (orange)

The 78 (orange). Model by Jack Crawford

Recent Saint Patrick’s day Instagram post of The 78 Casino Bid via Related Midwest

Update: The third finalist is Bally’s Tribune Center Publishing Bid

Update Bally’s Tribune Proposal via Bally’s

What would be the largest of the three finalist in terms of gambling with 3,600 positions, the Bally’s bid would also contribute a one-time $15 million payment to the city upfront and is expected to bring in the most tax revenue after six years at a predicted $192 million. The report also mentioned Bally’s could have an increased desire to maximize their Chicago investment being the only one of the three to not operate a Chicagoland property at the moment, with Rivers having multiple and Hard Rock aiming to have two very soon.

Update Bally’s Tribune Proposal via Bally’s

However traffic worries loom with this bid, the city is currently planning to widen the Chicago Avenue bridge, but Bally’s would pay to extend Superior, Erie, and Jefferson Streets. It is worth noting in the original Bally’s plan, the developer will only build part of its hotel component with 100 room at first, waiting to see how the market reacts to fully finish out the proposed complex that will include riverfront access, sports museum, conference hall, and a live music venue nearby the future Salt Shed and unnamed Lincoln Yard venue.

Site plan of Rivefront District via Bally’s

The project has also taken on a new design with a rounded main tower, and is set to kick-off the new river-district development consisting of 13-mostly residential towers along the riverfront as well as a new pedestrian bridge over the river connecting the new complex to the rest of the city. The largest tower in the future complex will be roughly 678,000 square-feet, not too far off from the casino’s 1 million square-feet of space.

Update: The final decision has been pushed as the city admits that it is behind schedule, on April 5th they will run the first of potentially many community outreach meetings on the three-finalist, with a final decision being made potentially as early as Summer 2022 but could be longer.

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14 Comments on "Update: City Narrows Down Casino Bids To Final Three"

  1. Steve River North | March 22, 2022 at 9:26 am | Reply

    Sooo, the 78 wants their tower to look like an oil rig? This is not Texas and that is going to have a negative connotation with the push against fossil fuels.

    Like the article in Crain’s said. dump all 5 proposals and start over. My bet is a casino just East of United Center. West Loop is where most of the action is right now, plus you get how many Bulls and Blackhawks games played there in a year???

  2. Great idea Steve. Let’s take the only neighborhood in the city that’s still attractive to institutional capital and large employers and dump a casino on the fringe. What could possibly go wrong?

  3. The 78 bid is clearly the best proposal. Do we really need a fourth observation deck though?

  4. deborah garber | March 22, 2022 at 9:46 am | Reply

    The 78 plan will crater the south loop residential area. I agree with putting it near the expressway and United Center where you won’t be trampling an existing residential neighborhood.

    • How is putting something on formerly abandoned land “trampling” on a neighborhood? Legitimately curious to hear the concerns here.

  5. The 78 is the best proposal, and yes we do need another observation deck. The views from that venue should be awesome.

  6. Spyro Boukalis | March 22, 2022 at 12:06 pm | Reply

    Steve, it’s the opposite, 78 is playing tribute to the bridges across the site. Those bridges open and create that tower look. It’s actually very Chicago. Let’s get this one going

  7. I live in south loop and I actually really like the 78. I think it has great potential to help re connect the urban fabric which is very much needed. The prior mega developments chopped up the street grid and are fairly low density. The 78 actually (fingers crossed!) seem to have been thoughtful in trying to sew the street grid back together, the extra CTA stop is desperately needed in the area, and it would add some density to help offset/balance the prior developments. I was hesitant when they added the casino, but I’m all for it. I love the residential character of the area but it does get a little sleepy at times, so it might actually be nice to have some entertainment close by but kind of off to it’s own area. My only hope is that with the casino the developers remain committed to the ambitious number of housing units.

  8. The Dearborn Park people are going to throw a fit about drunk casino goers walking along 15th street :D:D

    • Guillermo Gonzalez | March 22, 2022 at 8:40 pm | Reply

      Dearborn Park really needs to be demolished. Worst decision ever. I don’t know the history behind the neighborhood, but dear God every person notices it is out of place and context to the rest of the city. I hate walking through it.

  9. Dearborn Park is a sin against all things urban. Let them rage and leave for the suburbs.

    The 78 is the only option if the city is serious about tourism, world class architecture, bold ambitions and competing globally. This would be the finest urban casino in the U.S. and give Chicago another ‘landmark’ type destination. Not to mention it would actually contribute to the skyline. The South Loop is also pretty limited on entertainment options. Bally’s is the safest, most modest Vegas’y style proposal so I’m sure it will be selected. Rahm no doubt would have went with the most aspirational option.

  10. They just announced that they narrowed down the bids to three, these two (Hard Rock’s One Chicago and Rivers at The 78) and the Bally’s one at the Tribune site on north branch of the river.

    • Yes! we have updated the article with new information and renderings for Bally’s as well, we earmarked new information with ‘update’ prior to the paragraph, let us know if we missed anything!

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