But the combination of new Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who actively supports a casino, and massive state and city budget deficits mean a Chicago casino might finally become reality. Further, it could arrive in the South Loop, as Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd Ward) is already looking at specific locations for a city gambling spot.
Fioretti and other internet sites (among them readers of Sloopin) have suggested that the old post office that straddles Congress Parkway just west of the river would be a great spot. We agree, but it's unfortunate that the city just auctioned this off. Not to say that the city couldn't come to terms with the owner, but it's just ironic that the city sells something and then would want it back.
Lee Bey from WBEZ thinks the McCormick Place East should be the spot for a new casino:
For my money, a city-owned casino should be McCormick Place's Lakeside Center, the 40-year-old modernist convention hall that its owner, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, says is under-used, headed toward obsolescence, needs a $150 million renovation and costs $10 million a year just to operate. It will bring a money-making use to the building that will allow it to maintain itself. And at 580,000 square feet, the building is a bit undersized by convention standards, but would be among the largest casinos on the planet in terms of terms of sheer gaming space, placing it in league with the 546,000 sq ft of gaming halls at China's Venetian Macau--currently the world's largest. Its size could make this country's largest casino--Las Vegas' 170,000 ft MGM Grand--look like a few poker machines in the back of a bar in Lyons by comparison. Then there's Lakeside Center's Arie Crown Theater which can seat 4200 people--large enough to bring big acts to entertain that new audience.
The Chicago Journal article goes on to say that McCormick Place probably won't happen:
Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which runs both McCormick Place and Navy Pier, want no part of a city casino.
"Lakeside Center is definitely not the place for a casino," MPEA Trustee Jim Reilly said in a statement. "Our trade show customers do not want their attendees leaving the show floor during show hours."
Seems like the talk is ramping up...and it seems like the South Loop is the place many around the city think the casino could land. Could be good for business...could be bad for families...