Mayor Richard Daley knows where a potential Chicago casino would NOT be built. On Monday, he publicly nixed Navy Pier, McCormick Place and Northerly Island as possible sites.


 

Mayor Richard Daley knows where a potential Chicago casino would NOT be built. On Monday, he publicly nixed Navy Pier, McCormick Place and Northerly Island as possible sites.


 


“If we have an opportunity of (getting a casino), we’ll place it completely different, away from these venues,” Daley said during an unrelated news conference at Navy Pier, the lakefront tourist attraction.


 


The Democratic mayor previously asked lawmakers to approve a Chicago casino that would be owned by the city and managed privately, but many were cool to the idea. Now, a city-owned casino, plus two additional casinos for Illinois, is included in a $13 billion capital bill that passed the state Senate last week.


 


Rumors have long circulated about possible casino locations for Chicago. Daley, perhaps in an attempt to allay fears about the appropriateness of some sites, offered assurances that he would not support gambling at three high-profile locales.


 


“When we decided to (redevelop) Navy Pier, people (started) rumors, ‘Oh, there’s going to be a big gaming hall,’” Daley said. “This will never be a gaming facility ... Navy Pier is for families.”



 “When I closed Northerly Island, or Meigs Field (in 2003, to create a park), they said it’s going to be gaming; it’s not going to be gaming,” the mayor added. “And also, gaming’s not going to be around McCormick Place, because you have conventions ... they want to do convention business.”


 


Daley did not disclose his personal preferences for a casino site.



His remarks came as House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego sought to convene a meeting for Wednesday morning with the other legislative leaders and Gov. Rod Blagojevich to discuss the Senate bill. Cross said members of his caucus may support additional casinos, if taxes from the ventures are tied to a much-needed capital program for infrastructure.



“I personally — this just Tom Cross — find (three casinos) a bit aggressive,” he told reporters in Springfield. “Our members are willing to continue to have the discussion because the needs in their respective districts are great.”



Pressed about whether he could support city ownership of a casino, given Chicago’s history of corruption, Cross said safeguards must be included.



“You’ve got to be above-board on it,” he said. “It’s got to be above reproach.”


Currently, private companies hold the state’s existing casino licenses and are regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board.



Cross spokesman David Dring said only House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, had not indicated whether he would attend this week’s meeting about the capital bill. The gathering is slated to be held at Cross’ Chicago office at the James R. Thompson Center.



Madigan has been in a drawn-out political feud with Blagojevich, who supports the capital bill. Madigan spokesman Steve Brown could not be reached for comment Monday.


 


Bernard Schoenburg of GateHouse News Service contributed to this report from Springfield. Mike Ramsey can be reached at (312) 857-2323 or ghns-ramsey@sbcglobal.net.