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Hard Rock chosen as Chicago casino finalist

Rendering of the proposed Chicago Hard Rock casino-resort. (Image via city of Chicago)

Hard Rock International (HRI) has been selected as one of three finalists vying to develop Chicago’s first casino-resort.

Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced March 22 that HRI joins Bally’s Corp. and Rush Street Gaming for the bid to acquire the city’s sole casino license. Lightfoot said in a news release that the city would eventually send a finalist to the city council for approval.

“Each proposal offers economic, employment, and equity-focused opportunities for Chicago, while simultaneously enhancing the city’s cultural, entertainment and architectural scenes with world-class amenities and design,” Lightfoot said in the release. “Our teams look forward to heading into discussions with the finalists and getting one step closer to bringing this decades-long project to fruition.” 

Hard Rock has proposed a $1.74 billion casino as part of a massive mixed-use project that would be built near the Soldier Field stadium. It would include a 500-room hotel and 3,500-seat live entertainment venue, among other amenities.

“We’re excited about the prospect of creating a new entertainment destination for the city of Chicago, and we’re humbled to be chosen for the next phase of the selection process,” HRI said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. “We look forward to a robust dialogue with city leaders about Hard Rock Chicago and what we bring to the table. Chicago is a global city that deserves a global operator.”

If chosen for the project, HRI has said it would open a temporary casino in the second quarter of 2023 and the permanent casino in the third quarter of 2025.

The city said each of the three finalists would now participate in community meetings with the city before being further evaluated. A formal development process would begin following city council and Illinois Gaming Board approval of the winning bid.

The Seminole Tribe is the parent entity of HRI. More is at