Chicago City Council Approves Bally’s Casino Bid

Updated rendering of Bally's bid by SCB

The Chicago City Council has approved Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s selection of Bally’s Tribune Center casino bid at 777 W Chicago Avenue in River West. Replacing the vacant printing plant, the decision comes just weeks after the mayor selected the proposal as the finalist from the original batch of five bids which was then narrowed down to three earlier this year. Rhode Island-based Bally’s is working with local architecture firm SCB on the riverfront project that gathered plenty of feedback and comments from both the community and the aldermen during the heated meeting.

Winning Bally’s bid (left), Rivers The 78 (center), and Hard Rock One Central (right)

Beating out bids from Hard Rock at One Central and Rivers at the 78, early rumors that the proposal was at the forefront of the race circled around when a West Loop committee met with the casino’s team and multiple developers announced plans for projects near the site. Although the vote marks the end of a 30-year long attempt to secure a gambling center in the city, in typical Chicago fashion it didn’t come without plenty of controversy. Most recently the decision was called out for being biased due to the city using the same law firm and gaming consultant that Bally’s had used on previous properties according to Crain’s.

Site map of previously approved planed development and proposed Bally’s bid by SCB

Bally's Tribune Casino (gold)

Bally’s Tribune Casino (gold). Model by Jack Crawford

Bally’s will be making an upfront payment of $40 million to the city as part of its bid, this will help settle debts owed for the pension funds of both the police and fire departments, with nearly $200 million a year in profits expected to come in once the final facility is completed. Other benefits expected are the creation of 6,000 jobs including union roles, a new workforce development program with City Colleges, and a commitment to hiring 15 percent of its employees from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

View of Medinah Temple at night via Friedman Properties

Bally’s will be introduced to the city via its temporary location in the old Medinah Temple at 600 N Wabash Avenue in River North which will create a 45,000-square-foot casino, and two restaurants while the final facility is built. That will be a $1.7 billion, 1 million-square-foot structure anchored by a 37-story, 500-key hotel tower and the new casino holding 3,400 slots and 170 tables along with a 20,000-square-foot exhibition space, 70,000-square-foot entertainment center, multiple eateries including, and an outdoor concert venue, further information on the proposal can be found in our previous coverage here.

Bally's Tribune Casino (gold)

Bally’s Tribune Casino (gold). Model by Jack Crawford

Updated riverwalk rendering from Bally’s bid by SCB

Offering the city’s only 24-hour liquor license paired with a 10 p.m. outdoor concert permit, the aldermen voiced their worries over crime, traffic, and negative impacts on property values and overall quality of life in the area, however the mayor remains strong behind the decision. All this in mind, the council voted 41-7 in agreement with the plan, this included the requirement for quarterly reports to them on the financials and progress of the property as well as their approval for any changes to the agreement or project scope.

Update Bally’s Tribune Proposal via Bally’s

Bally's Tribune Casino (gold)

Bally’s Tribune Casino (gold). Model by Jack Crawford

However the casino hasn’t cleared all of its hurdles towards approval, it will now need to go in front of the state’s gambling committee later this year to ratify their license, although it is likely that they will win their approval as well. Bally’s will like to open their temporary facility by the summer of 2023 with the main complex expected in 2026, pending there are no hiccups along the way. Bally’s has promised to continue to work with the community while developing its final plans in the coming months.

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7 Comments on "Chicago City Council Approves Bally’s Casino Bid"

  1. The new design is so monolithic, I hope they are able to break it up a little bit. Additionally, look at the green space in the initial site plan compared to the new one. Large difference that needs to be addressed.

    • It’s unlikely to get better. If anything, once nimbys get their pound of flesh it will be a Frankenstein Rube Goldbergen mess

  2. ConcernedChicagoan | May 26, 2022 at 9:20 pm | Reply

    Notice they removed the legally required river bike paths from the revised plans. They also removed the unbridge connections at Ohio Feeder and Chicago bridge as well as the new pedestrian bridge. They think we won’t notice. We demand these new sections of the riverwalk be developed with bicycle commuters in mind. Wrote to alderman and city they don’t reply to the messages. Part of the deal with Bally’s I am guessing.

    • Steve River North | May 27, 2022 at 11:06 am | Reply

      The RNRA psychos were hugely against that pedestrian bridge, not to mention this whole deal. But I would not hold my breath until you actually see what gets built in 4 years. There is going to be so much back and forth, not that River North should have that much to say as it is in River West and under a different alderman.

  3. Thanks Steve River North, hope it gets better. The bike paths needed are not for the local residents as much as the rest of Chicagoans wanting to use the River as a way to commute.
    Let’s get it going similar to how the Lake is fantastic for bikes. This will be the safest way for thousands to get in and out of the city. It will be sad if they build it with no such planning only to have to come to it a decade later and spend tax payer money to retro fit for bikes.
    The City planning is horrible. This folk must not travel to real world class cities. They need to be able enough to draw a single plan for the Chicago river and enforce it.

    • Steve River North | May 28, 2022 at 9:32 am | Reply

      I have a feeling that the Casino does not want a bunch of bikers streaming past its doors and running into patrons. Much like how biking is forbidden on the RiverWalk. As a fellow biker i too fell the sadness around the lack of wholistic planning for the city. The NIMBY groups aka resident assoc scream at their alderperson who caves and then does what is good for a few and not the city as a whole.

  4. Awesome. I’m so glad this process was so aboveboard and not corrupt in any way. And that the city really listened to the people. But probably the best part is now I have to move in 2026. Fantastic!

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