Chicago USL stadium, music venues axed from Lincoln Yards plan by local alderman

Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts will not be bringing a new USL soccer team to that city, after alderman Brian Hopkins issued an open email declaring his opposition to the planned Lincoln Yards redevelopment project including either a soccer stadium or a proposed series of Live Nation music venues:

“I have informed planning officials at Sterling Bay, the developer of the proposed Lincoln Yards project, that I am not in support of a major sports and entertainment arena within either of their two planned development districts now under consideration,” Hopkins wrote in an email to his constituents this morning. “I have further requested that the identified site of the proposed stadium . . . be repurposed as open and recreational park space.

“In addition, I have informed Sterling Bay that I will not support the proposed ‘entertainment district’ within the Planned Development that was intended to be co-owned by LiveNation and comprised of multiple venues with seating capacities ranging from 3,000 to 6,000. The Entertainment District will be eliminated from a revised plan, and replaced by restaurants, theaters, and smaller venues that will be scattered throughout the site. LiveNation will have no ownership interest in any of these venues.”

Developers Sterling Bay later confirmed that it would be removing the stadium and the Live Nation venues from the plan.

The project is set to get at least $800 million in tax increment financing — i.e., kickbacks of future property taxes — which has been outgoing mayor Rahm Emanuel’s favorite subsidy scheme. (Most of it is supposed to be used for “infrastructure” work, but we’ve seen before how that can easily bleed into costs that would normally be private developers’.) The big uproar over Lincoln Yards, though, has been over the soccer stadium that nobody wants, plus all those music venues run by a single corporate entity, right on the doorstep of a bunch of famed independent bars and small clubs that feared they would be driven out of business. Hopkins clearly heard those complaints, and used his power as local alderman to put the brakes on the aspects of the plan that had the most public opposition.

There’s still a long way to go to finalize revamped plans for the development project, and that’s still a hell of a lot of TIF money to be devoting to development that arguably wouldn’t do much to improve Chicago. (There would be some affordable housing, but $800 million worth?) For the purposes of this site, though, there won’t be a stadium involved, so watch your local Chicago listings — the desiccated husk of the Chicago Reader has done excellent reporting on Chicago’s TIFs — for further news of this story as it develops.

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5 comments on “Chicago USL stadium, music venues axed from Lincoln Yards plan by local alderman

  1. I really think people are greatly overestimating the market for USL soccer. I don’t even think the one in Queens was a good idea, and they have almost as many people as Chicago.

    Maybe this would work in California or something. If that.

    1. What do you expect? Cities only ever did any of that stuff or rent control because community groups fought for it for so long. Probably entirely because they didn’t think there’d be a day when yuppies would be interested in seemingly unfathomable locations back then. Like Harlem and upper Manhattan, South LA, the worst parts of Philly, and the South Side of Chicago. They do not care one iota about regular natives of their city. That goes for any city.

  2. There are already plenty of great music venues in Chicago, so I’m happy to see that part of the plan scrapped. We don’t need a soccer stadium either, but I was intrigued by the idea of the Fire moving to Lincoln Yards someday. Instead they’ll continue to be marooned out in Bridgeview.

  3. There are too many venues in the Chicago area for concerts; oversupply and saturation come to mind. Why the Chicago Fire moved to Bridgeview is beyond me; It’s almost impossible to get to by public transportation. A USL franchise I think would work inside the city of Chicago, there is a fan base. Lincoln Yards is stuck between 2 neighborhoods; Lincoln Park and Bucktown. Traffic is a nightmare, parking around there is non-existent and crime is rising. What Tom Ricketts should do is build a small soccer stadium on the “78” the other undeveloped plot of land in the south loop a mile west of Soldier Field. Good luck to Sterling Bay on developing Lincoln Yards, they’ll need it.

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