Mar 24, 2022 - Business

Chicago picks three finalists for transformative casino bids

Rendering of a hotel and casino on a river.
A rendering of the proposed Rivers 78 casino on the south branch of the Chicago River by design architects JGMA and KPF. Photo courtesy of Related Midwest

The long-awaited Chicago casino this week took one step closer to reality after the city announced the three finalists for the project.

Why it matters: This will be the first casino in Chicago after decades of rejecting legalized gambling within city limits.

Details: The city says they will pick between three mega-development sites all proposing mixed-use living and entertainment venues, including:

  • The Hard Rock at One Central: It would be just west of Lake Shore next to Soldier Field and McCormick Place. The mega-development has stalled since it asked taxpayers to foot the bill for a new train station, but a casino may make it easier for lawmakers to have that happen.
  • Rivers at The 78: Located on the South Branch of the Chicago River, it would also include a new Red Line stop at 15th Street.
  • Bally's at the Tribune publishing plant: Close to Lincoln Yards on the Near North Side, the site would include a 500-room hotel and remake the River West neighborhood near Halsted Street and Chicago Avenue.

The intrigue: The bid to retrofit the old Lakeside Center at McCormick Place did not make the final round.

What's next: The city says they will pick the winning bid in early summer. The plan would be to open a temporary casino in 2023-24 with the permanent space opening in 2025-26.

📣 Sound off: If this were your decision, which site would you pick? Take our poll and we'll publish the results next week.

Rendering of Ballys Chicago at the Tribune Publishing plant.
Rendering of Bally's Chicago at the Tribune publishing plant. Courtesy of SCB
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