Monday, April 25, 2022

Aldermen in "Special Committee on the Chicago Casino" to Meet Today to Discuss Next Steps

We've been watching the potential Chicago casino very closely, but the process has been unclear (maybe because it wasn't clearly defined?).  With staunch opposition from residents in each community (South Loop and River North) along with our Aldermen we were curious how this would unfold.  Well WBEZ has an information quick read with likely timing:

Facing a chorus of opposition from Chicagoans near the remaining three possible casino locations, a committee of aldermen will begin meeting Monday to discuss where to allow the city’s first flashy gaming and entertainment district to be built. 

The locations still in the running are: a site from Bally’s Corporation at the Tribune Publishing Center in River West, a site from Hard Rock just west of Soldier Field at a proposed development known as One Central and a site from Rush Street Gaming west of the South Loop in a megadevelopment known as The 78. 

Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th Ward, chairs the new Special Committee on the Chicago Casino created by the mayor and approved by City Council last month. 

“We’ll probably be narrowing it down,” Tunney said. “Sometime between April and May, I think we’re going to reconvene with the mayor and really try to fine tune and announce a finalist.” 

No vote will be taken Monday, Tunney said, but rather aldermen will have a chance to talk to city officials and department leaders who have been involved in the casino planning process. The three bidders will not be at the meeting, but Tunney said there may be revisions submitted to the committee that take into account community feedback.

The article goes on to give good info and it sounds like they're hoping to make a decision this summer (June or July).

As it relates to the special council, we found it interesting that the alderman who represents the site of The 78 - And. Bryon Sigcho-Lopez isn't on it:
The City Council members who represent the three sites and the surrounding communities have all come out against the specific proposals in their backyards. 

Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr., 28th Ward, told Block Club Chicago he hoped the Bally’s proposal in his ward would not be chosen. He declined an interview request from WBEZ. 

Ald. Pat Dowell, 3rd Ward, issued a lengthy statement opposing the Hard Rock proposal at One Central in her ward. She said it would be “dropped into an existing, well-established family community” and added that even though the developer insists the casino and the megadevelopment are separate projects, it’s difficult to see them as anything but “interrelated projects.” 

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, 25th Ward, is against the Rivers casino at The 78 in his ward. “It is clear that the residents of the 25th Ward — 80% of the residents — do not support this proposal,” Sigcho-Lopez said. He is the only alderman who has a finalist in his ward but is not on the special committee. 

Tunney said he wants all Council members to participate in the meetings and said Sigcho-Lopez will not get left out despite not being on the committee.

We're no experts on the inner workings of Chicago City Council or Aldermanic politics, but we'll go the cynical route and say it's harder to influence from the outside.  

If you think all bids have an equal chance of winning at this stage, then we have a 67% chance of a casino landing in our neighborhood.  If you adjust based on simple observations - such as the special council thought above - it seems more likely than not that this big development is coming to the Sloop.  

Should be an eventful spring and summer on this front for the Sloop.

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