We Can Do Better Than Din City Along the River

The Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune published editorials on June 2, 2022 that are critical of Chicago’s rush to build a casino on the riverfront and to enact “an ordinance authorizing outdoor music events with amplified sound – but without the usual permits.” We wholeheartedly agree.

In a Letter to the Editor published by the Sun-Times, Friends of the Chicago River made clear our position that we are committed to work with the city and Bally’s to help “create the greenest, river-friendliest casino in the world. However, we are dismayed that Chicago also seeks to create an unrestricted outdoor entertainment venue liquor license that would upend years of thoughtful planning for the Chicago River as a protected, natural corridor and community asset.”

Establishing this ordinance that would allow for unrestricted open-air entertainment venues along the river, and citywide, would violate core components of the Chicago River Design Guidelines which call for a connected, peaceful greenway as a natural contrast to the urban environment. As the Sun-Times notes about the venue ordinance, “Rather than giving a blanket thumbs-up to these events, the Council should require them to get approval on a case-by-case basis.”

As we state in our Sun-Times letter “What we need most are design and policy approaches that embrace the river as a natural resource for people and wildlife, rather than a water feature to be exploited for entertainment.” We challenge the city and Bally's to drive sustainable innovation for the casino and to set an example of the greenest and most contextually sensitive casino in the world, worthy of its location on the world-renowned Chicago River.

We encourage you to contact the Chicago City Council to express your concerns about this proposed ordinance and plans for the development of the casino.