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Thu, Feb 10, 2005

Meigs Field To Become Concert Park?

Chicago Park Board Set To Approve 10,000-Seat Concert Venue

According to Chicago-area news reports, the agenda for Wednesday's park board meeting includes approval of a 3-year contract for a 10,000 seat "temporary special event venue" on the site of Meigs Field.

"This proposal is absurd," said Steve Whitney, president of the organization. "Meigs Field is a lousy location for a festival site, especially one of this size. Access is poor, via a single road; public facilities for ten thousand concert-goers are non-existent; safety, security, and parking would be a nightmare."

"More importantly, no one wants this type of activity there," said Whitney. "While our proposals for Meigs are being censored, we still have attended every Park District planning meeting. Nobody at those meetings—not even our opponents—thinks this type of activity is good for the site."

The proposal is wasteful and redundant. In the past 2 years alone, the Park District has opened new public event venues totalling over $1 billion—including state-of-the-art concert facilities—at Millennium Park and Soldier Field, both within walking distance of the site.

Other concert venues within walking distance of Meigs Field:

  • Millenium Park concert venue (outdoor, seating 11,000, completed 2003, cost $450 million--triple original budget)
  • Soldier Field (outdoor, seating 60,000, completed 2002, cost $600 million)
  • Petrillo Band Shell (Grant Park, outdoor, capacity 60,000, used for Chicago music festivals)
  • Navy Pier Tent (outdoor, seating 1,000 plus)
  • Orchestra Hall (indoor, seating 2,500)
  • Navy Pier Ballroom (indoor, seating 2,000)
  • McCormick Place Exposition Center (indoor, seating flexible, 2,000-15,000)

Dozens of other theaters and auditoriums The Park District—though desperate for funds—has ignored and censored proposals for the Meigs site that could bring in up to $100 million or more in revenues. The Friends of Meigs Field have offered a mixed-use proposal for a combination park/airstrip/air museum, funded entirely by federal aviation funds, and providing scores of millions in excess revenues to benefit neglected parks across the city. The proposal has specifically been excluded from options offered at Park District planning meetings.

"This is another example of the ‘bread and circuses’ approach," said Whitney. "Distract them with concerts and maybe they won’t notice the condition of the parks in poor neighborhoods."

FMI: www.friendsofmeigs.org

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