Chicago developer offers stadium to Amazon as part of HQ deal, just because, okay?

I’m sorry, what?

A Chicago developer is offering a unique perk in the all-out competition to win Amazon’s second headquarters: Amazon Stadium.

Sterling Bay’s proposal to bring as many as 50,000 Amazon headquarters workers to its Lincoln Yards development includes the potential for a sports and concert venue near the Chicago River.

The developer describes preliminary plans for “a world-class sports and entertainment stadium” in the materials obtained by the Tribune.

And look, there’s a rendering:

That is indeed a stadium, and it indeed says “Amazon” on the field, where there appears to be a soccer match going on. (The Amazon logo is going to be sideways when viewed on TV or by the vast majority of fans in the grandstand, but they can always tweak that later.) The question is: Why? Does Sterling Bay really think that Amazon would like a sports stadium as part of its corporate headquarters, for when the company is bored with dominating retail sales and streaming video and wants to monopolize sports, too? Is this part of some gambit to move the Chicago Fire out of Bridgeview, leaving the suburb with its massive stadium debt that it already can’t pay off? Is it just trying to get “Sterling Bay” associated with “stadium building” in the public mind, so that next time a stadium needs to be built, they’re the ones who get the call?

I think maybe let’s just go with “When a megacorporation like Amazon dangles jobs as a carrot, both local elected officials and local developers tend to lose their minds.” This is so going to make the Tesla subsidy shakedown look like penny-ante stuff, I’m afraid to even watch.

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31 comments on “Chicago developer offers stadium to Amazon as part of HQ deal, just because, okay?

  1. I am conflicted on this. Getting Amazon sounds great, but I worry about giving massive subsidizes for one company at a time the city needs to be creating a better business environment for all companies and a better environment for their employees. Unlike many of the followers of this site, I oppose these types of deals from the right not the left. I want to see a better business environment and real capitalism, not crony capitalism.

    As for Bridgeview, the stadium itself I like. While not as fancy as Red Bull Arena I really don’t care much about that once the game starts. I just hate having to get out there. For the Weekday game last week, it took about an hour and a half just to get to the stadium, then the wait to get in the parking lot (my son was park of the pregame so I literally dropped him off and told him to run to the gate while I waited in the parking line). Everyone has to drive there practically. There is in theory a transit option, but that drops you off at Midway about 4.5 miles away. There are express buses for game nights, but when my wife took transit to meet us at the game, there was no bus in sight and she ended up sharing an Uber with other fans.

    So while I would love to see a more transit friendly stadium built, Toyota Park is still not even 20 years old (and I am sick of this new 20 year stadium lifetime that we are seeing lately) and given what it did to Bridgeview, I think you need to wait it out.

    1. Also conflicted. I am 10 minutes from Chicago River location. I avoid after game traffic in Bridgeview by visiting the batting cages , go cart racing and their excellent strip club down the road. Yes good times.

      1. So *you’re* the sports fan that everyone has been looking for!

        Batting cages sound awesome, though.

        1. I think they are mostly supported from the pocketbooks of the owners and the campaign checks the cut and other goodies they dole out.

          I don’t think there is much evidence they are supported by the political center at all.

          1. I don’t know. When I lived in Brooklyn I was against the Barclay’s Center for the reason that (i) I am always banging on about eminent domain abuse and (ii) I thought the economic arguments of the arena were ridiculous. My blue collar cousins in Brooklyn thought it was a great project and supported it as the Arena would bring jobs and economic stimulus.

    2. Here’s how I work the Fire parking lot. At the 85 minute mark, I move to the concourse closest to the exit. During injury time, when I see the referee look at his watch, I sprint for my car as if a pack of dogs were chasing me. Otherwise, you’re spending the night there.

      1. We sometimes just wait and let our son try to get autographs post game hoping the lots will empty out in the meantime. Never works though

  2. Ideally, the Bears would build a new stadium, using mostly their own money. Then the city would remove the flying saucer from the west stand at Soldier Field. Making in a perfect 40,000 seat soccer stadium for the Fire and international games. Or they could move to Austin. It’s ready for two MLS teams.

  3. That submerged stadium must be the new line of Tornado safe stadiums. Although with Chicago’s water table, it would easily flood, unless it had a direct hook up the Deep Tunnel project.

    1. And not a lens flare in sight. They’re just phoning it in. Also, an entire deck of the stadium seems to be the size of one floor of the adjacent building. Either the stadium has been compressed, or they’re offering 50 foot ceilings in that apartment building.

  4. Interesting rendering. Who wants a symmetric stadium when you can just make a lot of seats extra nose-bleedy but make the stadium look so stylish?

    1. Also note how those stands would have a fabulous view of the skyline and river except for the fact the stadium is positioned so that they’re facing away from said view.

  5. After lighting $100+ million on fire to build a stadium for DePaul, nothing would be surprising. With abundance of empty seats at the playoff game, it seems they enjoy building stadiums for teams who often play in empty buildings.

    1. I go to a bunch of Fire games. The main factor in tickets sales is the date and time. The place was packed for their previous weekend game. But a midweek playoff game, not originally scheduled, two days advance notice, that’s only going to attract the 9 to 11 thousand hardcore fans you saw. It’s a nice base, but they need to grow it.

    1. So long as Amazon owns the stadium and pays property tax on it, that’s good. Then they can deal with the pro sports tenants who want to be paid to play in the stadium….

    2. Someone on my twitter feed noted a entitiy called “Sterling Soccer LLC” recently trademarked “Chicago Wind” and “Chicago River”.

      I wonder if this is connected with this proposal. There is a lawsuit by the NASL and others against the US Soccer Federation pushing for promotion – relegation. I wonder if they figure we end up with promotion relegation in say 10 years and this stadium is a part of a new Chicago team to work its way up eventually to MLS.

      All speculation on my part

  6. Some 25 years ago DePaul was thinking about building an arena near this area.It never came to pass and they stayed at Allstate arena till the city basically built them WinTrust arena near McCormick place.A stadium used by no one?Sure,build it & they will come.Right?The city that Does Not get Amazon will be the winner here.Lincoln Yards as it’s called I believe is just Northwest of Goose Island and West of Lincoln Park.The expressway is nearby and L service from the Red and Brown line about 3/4 of a mile east.Sounds like a pipe dream from the developer but in this day and age you never know.

    1. This is where A Finkl and Sons had a Steel mill.It’s been an industrial area till Finkl went to the South side of Chicago.Looks like the developer is a desendent of Daniel Burnham.

      1. That is the place. I used to love driving past as they would often keep the doors to the mill open and you could see the steel being made.

        The mill was obsolete though and as the land was worth so much, they decided to move. Luckily, they kept the mill in the city, Given how the demographics of Lincoln Park and Bucktown have changed a mill on the South Side is probably better when looking for workers.

        Personally I have been supportive of not building more condos or shops but building something with blue collar jobs (though as noted, the demographics of the area probably don’t support that). There had been some talk of a movie studio there, given how popular Chicago has become for movies and TV. Now it seems they are back to mixed use with recreational space (there has been a push to build some soccer fields there given the paucity in the area, I don’t know what the current state is).

  7. Using the generic pedestrians by the trees outside as a guideline, the trees themselves seem to be around 40-45′ high. They are also higher than the stadium upper deck itself.

    In order to make the triple deck design work with that maximum height, the seating ‘bowl’ rake would have to be around 2-3 degrees… perhaps this is some new method of making the first row seats in each tier more “Premium” than ever before.

    I guess this is what skilled professional architects refer to as ‘perspective’.

    1. It must be. Otherwise, the people in the seats at the far end of the field are two inches tall.

  8. Love the Fire, but want to see them stick to Bridgeview, since they already stuck it to that little village in terms of stadium costs. Toyota Park is a fine place to watch soccer, and the team has been getting better. Getting out to Birdgeview isn’t a picnic, but getting to Cubs game on the north side of town would be a hassle for this southsider too. (Of course I pull for my beloved sad-sack Sox – I just brought up the Cubs by way of comparison.)

    If this Amazon Stadium actually ever comes to anything more than guazy renderings I will personally be very, VERY shocked.

    1. I agree on that. Bridgeview is not even 20 years old and it is a good place to watch a game.

      My son was speculating that the TM reservations by Sterling may be part of an NISA attempt too put a team in Chicago. With the lawsuit against the USSF for promotion relegation, maybe someone figures a team in Chicago might get promoted up. He also thinks Lincoln Yards is a better location for the Red Stars (the woman’s professional team) but they only draw about 3000 per game so a stadium just for them makes no sense.

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