Alden’s printing plant could cause a headache for Bally’s

Lease extension causes snag in plans for Chicago’s first casino

Alden Global's Heath Freeman and a rendering of Bally's development
Alden Global's Heath Freeman and a rendering of Bally's development (Alden Global, Bally's)

UPDATED, Feb. 16, 2023 9:50 a.m.

Bally’s is trying to avoid pulling a bust card in its plan to develop a massive casino and gaming complex on the site of the former Chicago Tribune printing press.

While the gaming company won a $200 million bid last year to buy the Tribune’s Freedom Center plant in River West, the deal hinges on Bally’s buying out the remainder of the Tribune’s lease, Crain’s reported. Now, the paper’s parent company Alden Global Capital has extended its lease, driving up the price of the site.

The New York-based Alden is known for its propensity to drive hard bargains. It extended its lease by an additional 10 years, a move that could require Bally’s to push more chips onto the table in order to buy out the lease. Bally’s will also be responsible for helping Alden find a new home for its printing press.

Colliers International is working with Alden and Bally’s on the deal. The two companies are far from an agreement, people familiar with their talks told the outlet.

The news could halt the plans to build Chicago’s first casino.

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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.”

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.

Spokespeople for Bally’s and Alden declined to comment on the matter, but a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office told the outlet that “the City is confident that all steps required to complete the transaction will be accomplished.”

This story has been updated to correct the source of information that described Alden and Bally’s as far from agreement.

 — Victoria Pruitt

Read more

Bally’s finalizes $200M Freedom Center buy for casino
Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, Maurice Edwards, Robin Schabes, Julie Darling and rendering of Bally's Chicago casino (Linkedin, Central Advisory Council, Getty, Bally's)
Lightfoot launches casino advisory council for Bally’s project
A Rendering of Ballys Chicago with Alderman Brendan Reilly and Alderman Brian Hopkins (Ballys, Ward 42, Facebook via Alderman Brian Hopkins)
Chicago casino opponents reject Bally’s $2M annual safety plan
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