Bally’s Files To Evict Chicago Tribune From Site Of Future Illinois Casino

Written By Matt Boecker on February 22, 2023
The Chicago Tribune newspaper has two years to leave the future site of Bally's $1.7 billion Chicago casino complex in the River West region of the city.

The operators of what is set to become the largest casino in Illinois have officially initiated eviction proceedings against the Chicago Tribune from the River West property.

Bally’s has officially notified the Tribune of its relocation.

The Tribune editors and reporters have their offices in the Freedom Center, which is also a printing site. Other news corporations such as the Chicago Sun-Times, Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times also utilize the machines at this facility.

Eventually, Bally’s will tear down the Freedom Center, a structure erected by the Tribune in 1979. On its place, the company plans to build a $1.7 billion casino complex, featuring a gaming venue and a hotel. This will be the first establishment of its kind in Chicago.

Bally’s Timeline With The Printing Site

Tribune Publishing spent $150 million to construct the printing site, a sum equivalent to nearly $590 million in today’s terms. The Freedom Center was part of the assets Nexstar Media acquired when it bought Tribune Media for $4.1 billion in 2019.

Fast forward to November 2022, Bally’s acquired the building for $200 million. However, not long after the purchase, Bally’s sold the property to a real estate company for $500 million and then leased it back.

Even though Bally’s is exercising its right to move the Tribune, the publishing company has a maximum of two years to secure a new location before the casino construction starts. Soo Kim, Bally’s chairman, assured the Chicago Tribune that the gaming operator would finance the move.

The publication also stated that Kim made efforts to save the Freedom Center. Collaborating with an architect, Kim devised a plan to relocate the casino and hotel slightly. This would potentially allow the site of the printing press to become a tourist hotspot and a tenant of the casino. However, Kim reported that the city officials rejected the proposal.

The Chicago Tribune has also reported that Bally’s and Tribune Publishing are engaging an arbitrator to settle compensation details. Bally’s is obliged to assist with the costs of relocation and the search for a new printing site.

How Close Are We To Bally’s Grand Opening?

Excited Illinois casino enthusiasts will have to wait for Bally’s permanent location to open. The 30-acre gaming facility is not anticipated to be operational until 2026. Moreover, its gaming license application is still under review by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB).

Fortunately, a provisional casino is in the pipeline. The IGB has recently awarded suppliers licenses to Medinah Temple to operate a temporary casino while the primary venue is under construction.

If IGB license approval comes in time, Bally’s and city officials hope to open the temporary location this summer.

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Matt Boecker

Matt Boecker, a Chicago native, graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2020. He focuses on covering sports betting and its legalization. His ex-teammates and colleagues depict him as a pleasant individual who is dedicated and passionate about the game.

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