Alderpersons Oppose Any Casino Site (In Their Wards)
All three sites for a proposed Chicago casino have now been opposed by the local alderperson—but will that have any effect on the city’s choice?
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, anxious to finally get a casino in operation and providing tax revenue, has set up a special City Council committee to make all decisions related to a Chicago casino. The committee does not include any of the alderpersons representing a ward where a casino has been proposed.
Three sites remain of the five initially proposed: Ballys at the former Tribune printing plant (Halsted & Chicago), Hard Rock at One Central, and Rivers at The 78. Proposals for Rivers at McCormick Place Lakeside Center and Ballys at McCormick Place’s truck marshaling yards were eliminated from consideration in late March.
In early April, Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) wrote that he “cannot support” a proposal for a casino to be built as part of The 78. On April 18, Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) announced she “cannot support” Hard Rock International’s plan to open a casino as part of a proposed mega-development in her ward. Technically, being south of 18th St., the Hard Rock casino would be in Ald. King’s 4th Ward, but she has previously opposed any casinos in her ward. Two days later, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said he doesn’t want a casino at the Tribune Publishing site in his ward.
Will the City Council’s traditional respect for “aldermanic privilege” doom the casino proposals, or has Mayor Lightfoot’s supercommittee paved the way for approval of whatever site is chosen—while also giving the affected alderpersons a way to tell their constituents they fought for their local interests?