Bally’s finalizes $200M Freedom Center buy for casino

Tribune Publishing extended its lease for 10 more years

A rendering of Bally's Chicago Casino with Bally's Soohyung Kim (Bally's)
A rendering of Bally's Chicago Casino with Bally's Soohyung Kim (Bally's)

Bally’s has finalized the purchase of the Freedom Center printing plant where it plans to build Chicago’s first casino.

The New England-based gaming company paid $200 million to buy the 30-acre River West site from Nexstar Media Group, the Chicago Tribune reported. Once completed, the casino is expected to bring in $200 million annually in tax revenue for the city.

With the purchase, Bally’s plans to resell the property through a sale-leaseback deal, in which it would likely give control of the ground on the site to a new owner that it would strike a long-term lease with that gives the gaming company control over the buildings that will be erected on the site as part of the development.

Back in May, Mayor Lori Lightfoot selected Bally’s bid to develop the $1.7 billion casino project, which was seen as a frontrunner throughout the selection process. At the time, Lightfoot said Bally’s proposal “best met the city’s core goals and would help us develop a casino-anchored resort complex that matches our thriving cultural scene.”

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The planned casino will include a 500-room hotel, a 3,000-seat theater, an exhibition hall, an outdoor music venue and six restaurants. The gaming portion of the casino will have 3,400 slots and 170 game tables. Before the casino is finished, however, Bally’s will open a temporary casino at Medinah Temple.

Tribune Publishing did extend its lease at Freedom Center for an additional 10 years beyond the current lease, which is set to expire in June 2023. The printing press produces the Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times and more.

Bally’s owns and manages 15 casinos across 10 states. The gaming company first moved into Illinois with its June 2021 purchase of Jumer’s Casino & Hotel in Rock Island for $120 million. The company later renamed the casino Bally’s Quad Cities.

— Victoria Pruitt

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