CHICAGO (CBS) — City officials on Friday officially unveiled the five competing bids to run Chicago’s casino, as the evaluation process continues with an eye to select a plan to present to the City Council for approval early next year.

The city is planning a public meeting next month for bidders to present their plans to the public and take questions on their proposals.

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Top officials at City Hall will sort through the proposals and negotiate with bidders before recommending one of the plans to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who is counting on the estimated $200 million in annual tax revenue from a Chicago casino shore up the city’s severely underfunded police and firefighter pension funds.

If the City Council approves the plan chosen by the mayor, the project would then need to go to the Illinois Gaming Board to get a license before the selected developer could set up a temporary casino while building a permanent facility.

Deputy Mayor for Economic and Neighborhood Development Samir Mayekar said the city received “five great proposals that are all well over $1 billion worth of development.”

“All of the proposals truly value Chicago assets,” he said. “We are very encouraged by what we’ve seen with these five bids.”

Chief Financial Officer Jennie Huang Bennett said, while the city is still in talks with all five bidders, they still expect a Chicago casino would generate approximately $200 million in annual tax revenues for the city, based on a 2019 feasibility study prepared by Union Gaming Analytics for the Illinois Gaming Board.

Bennett said the city also expects any Chicago casino to create thousands of jobs, “both in the construction phase as well as in the permanent facility on an ongoing basis,” and that once the casino is up and running, it would also provide a boost in income tax revenue, sales tax revenue, restaurant taxes, amusement taxes, and hotel taxes from all of the related jobs and activity that would be created.

Here are more details on the five proposals:

Bally’s Corporation Proposal for the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center

Rendering of Bally’s Corporations’ proposed casino at the Chicago Tribune publishing center. (Source: City of Chicago)

Bally’s has submitted two separate proposals for a Chicago casino, including a $1.8 billion project at the 30-acre Chicago Tribune Freedom Center publishing plant along the Chicago River near Halsted and Ohio streets.

The site would include 3,400 slot machines and 173 table games; a 500-room hotel; six restaurants and cafés, as well as a food hall; three bars and lounges; a 3,000-seat, 70,000-square-foot entertainment venue; 20,000 square feet of exhibition space; a sports museum; and an outdoor/rooftop space with bars, lounges, and pools.

Bally’s also would seek to place slot machines at both O’Hare and Midway airports.

The Chicago Tribune prints its newspapers – and some competitors’ newspapers – at the Freedom Center, but its lease at the site runs out in June 2023, with an option to renew for 10 years, but Bally’s also holds an option to purchase the site.

The Bally’s bid for this site includes a temporary facility adjacent to the Freedom Center by retrofitting an existing building.

Bally’s would provide an upfront payment of $25 million to the city this proposal is awarded.

Bally’s Corporation Proposal for the McCormick Place Truck Marshaling Yard

Rendering of Bally’s Corporation’s proposed casino on the site of the McCormick Place Truck Marshaling Yard. (Source: City of Chicago)

The second proposal from Bally’s is for the McCormick Place Truck Marshaling Yard, a 28-acre staging area for freight trucks just south of the convention center complex at 31st Street and DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

The $1.6 billion project would include 3,400 slot machines and 173 table games; a 500-room hotel; six restaurants and cafés, as well as a food hall; three bars and lounges; a 3,000-seat, 70,000-square-foot entertainment venue; 20,000 square feet of exhibition space; a sports museum; and an outdoor/rooftop space with bars, lounges, and pools.

Bally’s also would seek to place slot machines at both O’Hare and Midway airports.

The temporary casino for this proposal would still be adjacent to the Chicago Tribune Freedom Center.

Bally’s would provide an upfront payment of $50 million to the city this proposal is awarded.

Ald. Sophia King (4th) has voiced adamant opposition to a casino at this location, and has said the proposal should not be considered. Mayekar and Bennett said all of the proposals will be considered, but said in each case, the local alderman’s input will be a component of the evaluations.

Hard Rock Proposal for One Central

Rendering of Hard Rock International’s proposed casino within the proposed One Central development project near Soldier FIeld. (Source: City of Chicago)

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Hard Rock International is proposing to build its casino within the massive proposed One Central development, which is itself still just a concept that has yet to receive city or state approval as it seeks $6.5 billion in state financing.

The One Central development seeks to cover a 35-acre train yard near soldier field with a massive platform where the developers would build residential, retail, dining, and office space.

Hard Rock’s proposed $1.7 billion casino within the One Central project would include 3,400 slot machines and 166 table games; a 500-room hotel; eight restaurants and cafés, and a food hall; six bars and lounges; a 3,500-seat Hard Rock Live, Rock Spa, Hard Rock Music and Entertainment venue.

The temporary casino would be built in McCormick Place’s Lakeside Center.

An exhibit from Hard Rock provided by the city does not specify if this proposal would include an upfront payment to the city.

Rivers Chicago Proposal for McCormick Place

Rendering of Rush Street Gaming’s proposal for a Rivers Casino project at the McCormick Place Lakeside Center. (Source: City of Chicago)

Rush Street Gaming has partnered with two different developers on separate proposals for a Chicago casino, including a $1.3 billion plan to build a casino at the underused Lakeside Center at McCormick Place.

Developers tout this proposal as having the advantage of not needing a temporary casino, by quickly repurposing the 583,000 square feet of exhibit space at the Lakeside Center for a casino. Developers also note there are already 2,900 hotel rooms on site, but say they can add more if needed.

Their proposal would include 2,600 slot machines and 190 table games; 12 restaurants and cafés, and a food hall; four bars and lounges, as well as full bars at seven of the restaurants; outdoor dining, entertainment, and other lakeside programming; and a renovated 4,200-seat Arie Crown Theater.

The developers also tout the site’s direct access to the McCormick Place convention complex.

The exhibit provided by the city makes no mention of an upfront payment for this proposal.

Rivers Chicago Proposal for The 78 Development

Rendering of Rush Street Gaming’s proposal for a Rivers Casino project in The 78 megadevelopment between the South Loop and Chinatown. (Source: City of Chicago)

Rush Street gaming also is proposing a casino within the 62-acre riverfront megadevelopment known as The 78, located between the South Loop and Chinatown.

The $2 billion casino proposal for The 78 site would create an eight-acre entertainment district with 2,600 slot machines and 190 table games; a 300-room hotel; eight restaurants and cafés, as well as a food hall; five bars and lounges; a riverfront plaza; an observation tower with indoor and outdoor viewing space; and a riverfront entertainment venue with rooftop space.

The temporary casino for this project would be a riverboat docked on the Chicago River within The 78 development site.

The exhibit provided by the city makes no mention of an upfront payment for this proposal.

Next Steps in Bid Process

The applicants for all five bids will present their proposals to the public on Dec. 16. Although the exact time and location of that presentation has yet to be announced, Bennett said she expects the bidders will each present a roughly 45-minute presentation before taking questions from the public.

City officials might also provide a summary of the economic impact and financial benefits of the casino projects during that meeting.

After that meeting, the city also will host follow-up community meetings to present revisions to any proposals, if necessary.

Once the mayor’s review team recommends a final applicant for approval, the bidder will submit an official planned development application to the city, and the Chicago Plan Commission would then hold a hearing on the chosen proposal.

If approved by the Plan Commission, the selected bid would then go to the City Council Zoning Committee for consideration before a vote by the full City Council.

If approved, that proposal would then need to get approval for a casino license from the Illinois Gaming Board.

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Once the casino operator gets a license from the state, they would be able to operate a temporary casino for up to two years while they build a permanent facility, and could seek a 12-month extension on the temporary site if needed.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff