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Does Chicago need another concert venue?

June 13, 2013

(This is a companion piece to Rumble in the Garden. you can skip to the end if you’d like. There are videos down there.)

And the debate about DePaul and the publicly funded arena they’re associated with continues. If you don’t know, the City of Chicago has a deal with their McPier Authority to issue bonds to fund the building of an Arena on the near South Side – it will house the DePaul Blue Demons as a tenant, and also host some convention center events, concerts and… some other amorphous stuff.

McPier is the quasi-governmental agency that manages McCormick Place, the huge convention center – and also Navy Pier, one of the City’s big attractions. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is big on building a shiny Chicago that attracts business and conventions.

The public finds it tone deaf at a time when he’s also working to close 50 failing schools to save money (in the long term).

College hoops personality Doug Gottlieb (works for CBS), noted instigator but intelligent fellow, thinks that haters of the deal are being short-sighted:

As a Chicago resident who was attracted to the city in part because of the accessibility of the shows here, let me agree with those who have tried to correct Gottlieb a bit (and not just about the fact that the arena won’t be anywhere near Navy Pier).

Chicago is sick with mid-sized venues. House of Blues, Aragon, Riviera, Congress Theater, UIC Pavilion, the Chicago Theater, the Metro are all indoor venues.

Outdoors, the city manages to host Lollapalooza in Grant Park, Pitchfork Fest in Union Park, and – look, I lose track of all the damned outdoor fests. There are many.

AND THEN there are three to four street fairs each summer along the Blue Line (my stomping grounds) that bring in small to mid-sized acts (for a donation fee), plus smaller clubs.

Chicago is in no way hurting for concert/ show space. It is hurting for a convention center connected to downtown, but putting an arena in that dead zone between the South Loop and the Convention Center doesn’t necessarily connect things.

There could be some merit to not having shows go to the Sears Center (farther west) or the AllState Arena (technically not in the city) or to Toyota Park where the Chicago Fire play. However, many of the shows that end up in those venues seem to have more of a… suburban audience.

And you’ll see, there is not much “damn we shoulda gotten that show” spillover for the city of Chicago to worry about.

Toyota Park [Calendar] One big show – the B96 Summer Bash with Avril Lavigne [wait, what?], Ne-Yo, Macklemore, and Demi Lovato. Consider Jackyl. Do you even know who they are? You remember, the band with the singer who plays with a chainaw on stage? They played Full Throttle Fest last year and this year. It takes place in the Toyota Park parking lot. Bob Dylan is also coming with Wilco (who are ALWAYS playing Chicago).

AllState Arena [Calendar] Along with the WNBA games, the Arena has WWE Payback, Fleetwood Mac, and MegaDeth, and American Idol Live. And weeks of open events.

Sears Centre [Calendar] Feeling creepy? These events are for you! High school graduations! The University of Phoenix graduation! Gymnastics!

Best outdoor concert video

Speaking of outdoor concerts, this Gap Band video takes me to the happy place.

Or maybe you prefer St. Vincent going Chloe in the Afternoon (this performance! Not great quality, admittedly.)

DO you have an outdoor video you dig? Share it in the comments.

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