Alderman, Near North Side residents push back on reported casino selection

CHICAGO — Some Near North Side residents and an alderman have pushed back on the mayor’s reported casino selection.

Earlier this week, the Tribune, the Sun-Times and Crain’s Chicago all reported that Mayor Lightfoot has selected Bally’s River West, which is proposed for the Chicago Tribune printing plant site near Chicago and Halsted.

The reported selection was favored over the Hard Rock’s plan, located east of Soldier Field, and River’s plan, located in the South Loop.

On Tuesday, Mayor Lightfoot denied Bally’s was the frontrunner – noting that special committee hadn’t finished its work.

“They will meet, they will evaluate all the information that’s been provided by the three finalists to date and they will make a recommendation to me, that hasn’t happened yet,” Lightfoot said.

2nd Ward Ald. Brian Hopkins opposes the choice – and he’s on the committee that’s charged with reviewing the options.

“She asked us to form this special committee, to consider the three finalists and before we’ve even completed our work — she’s making her announcement that it’s a done deal and it was cooked up in a back room with no transparency and millions of dollars are involved,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins isn’t the only one pushing back against the proposal – neighbors voiced their concerns at a community meeting last month. A survey of more than 2,000 people from the River North Residents Association found more than 80 percent of them strongly oppose Bally’s proposal.

“I will be asking my colleagues on the city council to reject this recommendation based on the flawed process, the dishonesty, the lack of transparency, the unfairness and the fact that this proposal for Bally’s is the weakest one of the three on the merits alone,” Hopkins said.

As of Wednesday night, the special committee has not made their recommendation yet to Mayor Lightfoot.

Chicago News