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Lightfoot’s only major legislative achievement may be tottering on the brink

Wednesday, Apr 3, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sun-Times

Chicago’s casino bet on Bally’s could go bust if the company goes private, according to a pair of high-profile investors trying to block a takeover effort by the debt-laden corporation’s chairman, Soo Kim.

As Bally’s scrambles to secure $800 million to build its permanent casino in River West, Kim’s bid “jeopardizes the completion of the Chicago project, putting at further risk gainful employment and tax generation in Illinois,” investors from K&F Growth Capital wrote in a letter to Bally’s board of directors Tuesday.

Shareholders — and Chicago taxpayers — would be better served if Bally’s “immediately” partnered with a more experienced, high-end gambling company to execute the remainder of the $1.7 billion project, according to K&F managing partners Dan Fetters and Edward King. […]

Kim announced his takeover bid last month at $15 per share — less than half the $38-per-share buyout he offered in 2022 shortly before former Mayor Lori Lightfoot picked Bally’s for the coveted Chicago casino license. […]

Meanwhile, early returns from their temporary casino inside the historic Medinah Temple have been underwhelming since opening in September 2023. While it’s quickly proven to be one of Illinois’ biggest casino draws, it’s only generated about $4.3 million for Chicago police and firefighter pension funds — far short of projections by both Lightfoot and Mayor Brandon Johnson.

Lightfoot’s decision was puzzling from the very beginning. And now it’s in danger of ending up on the large, steaming junk heap that was the four years of Lori Lightfoot.

Heckuva job.

* From what I’ve read so far, Gregory Royal Pratt’s “The City is Up for Grabs: How Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Led and Lost a City in Crisis” is the best political book out of Chicago in a very long time. Go buy a copy today. Pratt finished his book before the temporary downtown casino showed signs of weakness and even possible failure. But here’s his take

And now “the only true major legislative victory for Lightfoot of her administration” ain’t turning out so well. At least for now.

Greg is clearly one of the best political reporters we have in Chicago. The spin coming out of the Lightfoot camp today against his book is just plain ridiculous. Again, go buy the book.

       

38 Comments »
  1. - TJ - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 12:13 pm:

    I’d be all for the casino plan crashing and burning if not for the fact that it’d probably kick the city’s finances in the butt.


  2. - ChicagoBars - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 12:25 pm:

    If only there was a state approved legal gambling option not reliant on a single venue with a decade of proven revenues that Chicago City Hall could approve in two meetings. If only.


  3. - low level - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 12:35 pm:

    IIRC correctly, Hopkins and Reilly warned about Bally’s shortcomings and how many didnt think they could pull this off. Someone correct me if Im mistaken.

    People like to criticize “Daleyites”. At least Daleyites were competent.


  4. - Wowie - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 12:51 pm:

    Good book so far, bout halfway thru. I will say that recently the current mayor has done the impossible and made me miss the days of Lightfoot - though this book reminded me of just how bad she was at the job of Mayor.

    Grass is always greener, I suppose.


  5. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 12:53 pm:

    === At least Daleyites were competent.===

    Do the Parking Meter Deal and Millennium Park next, please.


  6. - Jeremy W - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 12:57 pm:

    Is it too late to just pull the plug? surely there’s a better way to restore the pension funds than creating and taxing addicts…


  7. - NIU Grad - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 1:13 pm:

    “The spin coming out of the Lightfoot camp today”

    She has a camp?


  8. - Roman - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 1:22 pm:

    Bally’s proposal was the weakest of the casino finalist by a number of measures (particularly the location.) But they promised a $40 million upfront payment and that’s why Lightfoot picked them. In that respect, this could be seen as her very own mini parking meter deal — a short term cash grab.


  9. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 1:29 pm:

    ===She has a camp? ===

    Yeah. It’s small https://wcsaunas.com/products/canadian-timber-georgian-cabin


  10. - low level - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 1:37 pm:

    ==Do the Parking Meter Deal and Millennium Park next, please.==

    OK, apart from those, what do you have? They were on the 5th Floor for 23 years.


  11. - Formerly Unemployed - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 1:51 pm:

    ==OK, apart from those, what do you have? ==

    The Olympic Bid?


  12. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 1:52 pm:

    ==OK, apart from those, what do you have? ==

    Hired trucks.


  13. - Frida's boss - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 1:55 pm:

    Is there a taxpayer bailout to keep this casino alive? Also, have they figured out where the hotel is going since it can’t go where originally planned due to city water pipes?


  14. - Wowie - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 1:55 pm:

    ==OK, apart from those, what do you have?==

    Lake Calumet airport failure?


  15. - ChicagoBars - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 1:57 pm:

    ==OK, apart from those, what do you have? ==

    Respectfully submitting…over a decade of major shortchanging multiple City pension funds?


  16. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 2:01 pm:

    ==OK, apart from those, what do you have?==

    The Olympics?


  17. - ItsMillerTime - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 2:04 pm:

    ==OK, apart from those, what do you have?==

    Windy City Maintenance Inc.

    Thanks for setting up this “what have the Roman’s ever done for us” but low level!


  18. - ElTacoBandito - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 2:05 pm:

    ==OK, apart from those, what do you have? ==

    Park Grill contracting scandal

    Meigs Field

    Patronage Scandals: Alderman Patrick Huels, The Duff family’s Windy City Maintenance, Daley’s patronage chief Robert Sorich, Patrick Daley


  19. - Been There - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 2:05 pm:

    ==== But they promised a $40 million upfront payment and that’s why Lightfoot picked them====
    Also, I think Bally’s was the only finalist that had a deal with labor groups. The mayor was looking to get them on board for her RE-election.


  20. - James the Intolerant - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 2:10 pm:

    The ever-competent Daleyites did not fund the pension in 17 of his 22 years. THat is the king of kings ineptness, and most of those were good economic years.


  21. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 2:10 pm:

    ==OK, apart from those, what do you have? ==

    Opposed the 2011 income tax hike, which led the GA to cut municipals out of the new revenue?


  22. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 2:17 pm:

    === OK, apart from those, what do you have? ===

    Google “Richard Vanecko.”


  23. - low level - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 2:18 pm:

    Meigs Field is a failure? It was their signature achievement. It now is returned to park use as intended by Daniel Burnham. Along the same lines, after a rocky start, Millennium Park is now a world class tourist attraction.

    The city was in much better shape in 2011 when they left then it was in 1989 when they arrived.


  24. - Sue - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 2:20 pm:

    Goes to prove there is no silver bullet to the State or City’s ongoing fiscal issues. It would be nice if our Democratic led legislature would begin to recognize the benefit of restrained spending. Not every pressing need deserves taxpayer support ( eg migrant healthcare)


  25. - ElTacoBandito - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 2:23 pm:

    ==Meigs Field is a failure? It was their signature achievement.==

    Yeah that about sums up the Daley administration.


  26. - Henry Francis - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 2:28 pm:

    I am not defending the Daley administration at all, but a lot of the examples cited illustrate the corruptness of the administration, not necessarily incompetency.

    Daley wanted Meigs closed and he got it closed. That’s competence. (Despite it being illegal, unethical, etc.)

    The current Mayor can’t even terminate a contract (shot spotter). That is not policy or corruptness, it is utter incompetence.


  27. - Jocko - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 2:43 pm:

    ==OK, apart from those, what do you have? ==

    Don’t forget selling the Skyway.


  28. - Save Ferris - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 2:51 pm:

    Put the casino at Soldier Field after the Bears move out. Makes far more logistical sense near McCormick than on Halsted by… nothing.


  29. - Regular democrat - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 2:59 pm:

    Rivers Casino-downtown i can see the signage now. I certainly hope this becomes reality. Ballys has been on thin ice financially for sometime. Lets hope that happens. As far as the Lightfoot book goes im sure she will regret ignoring Mr Pratt in the end.


  30. - Ben Tre - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 3:22 pm:

    “near McCormick” — YES! The only value to a casino is if it extracts money from people who don’t live here.


  31. - thisjustinagain - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 3:27 pm:

    Rich: “Whad else ya got??”
    Me: “The Crosstown Expressway??”


  32. - Keyrock - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 3:31 pm:

    ==OK, apart from those, what do you have? ==

    Jon Burge. Police misconduct judgments.


  33. - Jimmysjohns - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 3:53 pm:

    love how the illinois economy is being held up by weed, sports gambling, casinos, gas taxes, abortions, and gas taxes. keep it up boys


  34. - Juice - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 4:02 pm:

    Jimmysjohns is absolutely correct. Illinois has a $1 trillion economy, and it’s being entirely propped up by a few billion of casino AGR. /s

    I hope you’re enjoying your spelunking trip.


  35. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 4:15 pm:

    ==Not every pressing need deserves taxpayer support ( eg migrant healthcare)==

    Yeah. Let’s just let them rot, right Sue? See you in church.


  36. - Pundent - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 4:40 pm:

    =a lot of the examples cited illustrate the corruptness of the administration, not necessarily incompetency.=

    Daley sold everything he could to avoid raising property taxes and keep the city running. In short he mortgaged the cities future and yes, it was incompetence. And the citizens and leaders of the city have been hamstrung ever since as a result.


  37. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Apr 3, 24 @ 9:30 pm:

    ==OK, apart from those, what do you have? ==

    739 heat-related deaths in Chicago over a period of just five days in July 1995.

    “We all have our little problems, but let’s not blow it out of proportion,” said Mayor Richard Daley.

    – MrJM


  38. - Ebenezer - Thursday, Apr 4, 24 @ 1:27 am:

    ==OK, apart from those, what do you have? ==
    Instant classic.


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