Operators of what will be the largest Illinois casino have officially moved to evict the Chicago Tribune from the River West property.
An official notice of relocation has been passed from Bally’s to the Tribune.
Housed in the printing site, also known as the Freedom Center, are the offices of Tribune editors and reporters. Other news corporations that use the facility’s machines include: the Chicago Sun-Times, Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
Bally’s will eventually demolish the Freedom Center, which was built by the Tribune in 1979. On the land, Bally’s will construct a $1.7 billion casino complex that includes a gaming venue and hotel. It will be the first of its kind in Chicago.
Bally’s Timeline With The Printing Site
It cost Tribune Publishing $150 million to build the printing site, which is equal to almost $590 million today. In 2019, Nexstar Media paid $4.1 billion to own Tribune Media. Included in the purchase was the Freedom Center.
Flash forward to November 2022, and Bally’s purchased the building for $200 million. But shortly after the acquisition, Bally’s sold the land to a real estate firm for $500 million and leased it back.
Despite Bally’s enforcing its right to relocate the Tribune, the publishing company still has up to two years to find a new home before construction on the casino begins. Bally’s chairman Soo Kim told the Chicago Tribune that the gaming operator would provide funds for the move.
The publication also reported that Kim tried saving the Freedom Center. Kim worked with an architect to draw up a plan that would slightly move the location of the casino and hotel. Then, the printing press site could become a tourist attraction and casino tenant. According to Kim, city officials shot down the idea.
The Chicago Tribune also noted that Bally’s and Tribune Publishing are going through an arbitrator to finalize compensation. Bally’s is forced to help with relocation costs along with finding a new printing location.
How Close Are We To Bally’s Grand Opening?
Unfortunately for excited Illinois casino-goers, Bally’s permanent location won’t be open for some time. The 30-acre gaming facility isn’t expected to open until 2026. In fact, its gaming incense application is still pending with the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB).
Luckily, a temporary casino is on the horizon. The IGB recently granted suppliers licenses to Medinah Temple to host a short-term casino while the main venue is being built.
Bally’s and city officials are hoping to open the temporary location this summer if IGB license approval comes in time.