Representatives from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and Wind Creek Hospitality have marked the start of construction on Wind Creek Chicago Southland, in the south suburban communities of East Hazel Crest and Homewood, a little more than 25 miles south of downtown’s proposed Bally’s Chicago casino.
Wind Creek Chicago Southland, scheduled to open in 2023, will be built off I-80 near Halsted Street.
The $440 million construction project will feature 252 high-end hotel rooms and a 70,000 square foot casino. That’s nearly 20% bigger than a football field. The casino will house 1,350 slot machines, 56 table games, plus dining and entertainment.
The Illinois Gaming Board only chose Wind Creek six months ago to develop the property, so the company moved fast to hold a ceremony last week for the start of construction. The ground-breaking comes on the heels of news about a Chicago casino decision.
Bally’s Corp. was chosen in late May by Chicago City Council to build the first casino-resort inside the city limits. Bally’s Chicago Casino at Tribune Publishing Center will be located near Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street, just west of the Chicago River’s north branch.
Illinois sports betting began just over two years ago and it has become one of the top legal sports wagering states.
“Wind Creek doesn’t just build casinos, we truly build communities,” Stephanie Bryan, tribal chair & CEO of the Poarch Creek Indians, said in a news release. “We’re so very thankful for the support of community leaders, local organizations and residents of the south suburbs who helped get us to this point — and look forward to working with you to ensure that the benefits associated with this project are experienced by the entire region.”
Good news for the area job market is that the project will create around 600 construction jobs and then add 800 hotel and casino jobs to Chicago’s southern suburbs. Wind Creek says the jobs will be “good paying.”
Jay Dorris, president and CEO of Wind Creek Hospitality, said “people across the Southland have been waiting for this casino and the community investment that comes along with it.”
“Our commitment to this community has already begun and will only be strengthened as we move our focus to job creation and finalizing the details of the Southland Public Benefit Fund,” he added. “We’re happy to be taking concrete steps to see this dream realized.”
Revenues will be shared with the State of Illinois and surrounding south suburban townships.
Wind Creek, East Hazel Crest and Homewood are pledging to contribute to the Southland Public Benefit Fund to help the area’s less fortunate residents. The fund will distribute $150,000 per year for the first five years of operation.
The money will provide scholarships for disadvantaged students and health services for the south suburban region through partnerships with South Suburban College, Prairie State College, and Moraine Valley Community College, the Ingalls Development Foundation and Advocate South Suburban Hospital. Once the Fund corpus reaches $20 million, the Fund will distribute $1 million annually.
The Poarch Creek Indians are descendants of a segment of the original Creek Nation that once covered almost all of Alabama and Georgia. They are the only federally recognized Indian tribe in the state of Alabama.
Wind Creek Hospitality is one of the tribe’s business ventures, and it runs casinos is Altmore, Montgomery, and Wetumpka, Alabama, and a greyhound track in Mobile. There’s also another Wind Creek casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylviana, and warm weather spots in Aruba and Curacao. The Poarch Creek Indians also run the Owa Resort near the Alabama coast.