Wednesday, March 23, 2022

City Announces 3 Finalists for Casino Locations ; 2 of them in the Sloop

Looks like two Sloop locations made the cut (via Chicago Tribune):

And then there were three.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has narrowed down the city’s five proposals for its first casino to three finalists: Bally’s at the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center, Rivers at The 78 and Hard Rock at the proposed One Central megadevelopment, the city announced Tuesday.

The three remaining bids advanced by the city may represent the path of least resistance for a Chicago casino. But none has landed without some objections or concerns, which the city may have to confront before it whittles the group down to a single favored plan, which officials said will be by early summer. It would still need to win state approval.

Not going to lie, a bit unfortunate to see that the McCormick Lake Side center cut but seems like that ran into some stiff resistence from the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority - the powerful group that runs the giant convention complex.

The proposal for a casino at The 78 seems like the most straightforward of the remaining bids in our opinion.  Although the River North option at Ashland and Halstead (formerly known as the Chicago Tribune Printing Center) also wouldn't be hard to envision.

The one that seems to have the biggest question mark (but maybe the most strategic opportunity for Chicago and Mayor Lightfoot) is the Hard Rock option on the train tracks west of Soldier Field:

Hard Rock is proposing a $1.74 billion casino at One Central, a massive mixed-use project developers hope to build over train tracks west of Soldier Field. The proposal includes a 3,500-seat live entertainment venue, a 500-room hotel and other amenities.

While Landmark Development’s proposed $20 billion One Central megadevelopment may still need $6.5 billion in state funding to get off the ground, the city said Tuesday that the Hard Rock Chicago can proceed independently from the broader development.

“The Hard Rock proposal proposes a phase one where the remainder of One Central does not need to move forward,” said Jennie Bennett, the city’s chief financial officer. “It’s not contingent on state funding.”

The One Central development is massively controversial, complex and seems unlikely.  However, judging by that last quote it seems like this could move forward without full approval of One Centra.

In theory this proposal sits at an interesting spot and one that could help the city re-envision what the Museum Campus and Soldier Field is for the next couple decades. 

It's been well documented that the Chicago Bears are potentially (likely?) going to move to the burbs.  As a result, it's caused city hall to rethink how it can utilize this iconic, but dated building and the area more broadly.  

Could the Hard Rock Casino serve as a shot in the arm for whatever they want to do?  Will be interesting to see what transpires here.  

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