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Lincoln Park, Old Town

Live Nation Venues, Soccer Stadium Scrapped From Lincoln Yards — But $800 Million TIF Plan Remains

Ald. Brian Hopkins wants restaurants and venues that LiveNation will have no stake in to replace the current plans for Lincoln Yards.

Rendering of a Live Nation-tied concert hall in the proposed Lincoln Yards' development.
Lincoln Yards website in June 2018
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CHICAGO — LiveNation is no longer slated to run several music venues in the Lincoln Yards mega-development.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said in a Tuesday statement that he doesn’t support the massive, $5 billion development’s “Entertainment District” and wants that portion of the area to be replaced with “restaurants, theaters and smaller venues that will be scattered throughout the site.”

LiveNation wouldn’t have any ownership in those spots, Hopkins said.

The idea of LiveNation running music venues in Lincoln Yards — some with planned capacities of up to 6,000 people — had sparked controversy throughout the city. Indie venues have been working together to fight the proposal, concerned about how it would affect independent businesses and Chicago’s music scene.

Hopkins also came out against a planned soccer stadium for the development.

“Both of those elements of the Lincoln Yards proposal were attracting significant opposition, and I didn’t see a path to solving the problems that were generating the opposition,” Hopkins said.

Developer Sterling Bay agreed to the alderman’s wishes, a spokesperson said Tuesday. 

“While much of the feedback has been positive, Alderman Hopkins and residents have been very clear: they do not want a stadium,” a Sterling Bay spokesperson said. “And we want to say: we heard you loud and clear. We have removed the stadium and broken up the entertainment district, allowing for assorted smaller venues throughout Lincoln Yards where all independent music operators will have the opportunity to participate.”

While Live Nation’s involvement was criticized by small venues throughout the city, it’s unclear whether Hopkins’ announcement will appease those critical of the development. What started as a battle between independent Chicago venues and mega-promoter Live Nation has transformed into a fight against using $800 million in TIF money for Lincoln Yards.

Owners and supporters of The Hideout, a small venue located in the midst of the planned development, have been the most vocal opponents the TIF plan. They’ve spearheaded a nonprofit called Civl to organize others opposed to what they see as a rushed and secretive TIF process.

In a letter to Crain’s this week, Hideout co-owner Katie Tuten and Civl co-chair Robert Gomez said their focus is primarily on slowing down the TIF process — and allowing for more community input and planning before handing over such a large sum of taxpayer money.

“Responsible development will bring desperately needed new tax revenues to our indebted city government,” Gomez and Tuten wrote. “It will bring new blood into the city and new patrons into our venues. But when we talk about TIFs, we’re talking about using taxpayers’ money. And those funds should be spent on projects that benefit the entire city and all the taxpayers.

“We are not trying to put up roadblocks. We simply want the whole process to go a little slower. “

While Hopkins — and Sterling Bay — are willing to compromise the stadium and venues, the TIF for the development is still in the works.

Hopkins said there are “insufficient details” for him to support the TIF at this point, but there’s time between now and Feb. 19 — when the TIF proposal goes to a vote — for those questions to be answered. 

Pointing to traffic concerns from residents worried that the development will further clog a congested corridor, Hopkins said he and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are speeding up plans to “reconfigure” the Armitage/Ashland/Elston intersection. 

“Upon completion, the resulting congestion relief is projected to mirror the remarkable success of the reconfiguration of an equally complex intersection at Damen/Elston/Fullerton,” Hopkins wrote. “Similar benefits were realized by the intersection redesign and bridge removal at Belmont and Western. It should be noted that both of those key traffic relief projects on Chicago’s North Side were paid for with TIF allocations.” 

A Sterling Bay spokesperson said they’ll be updating their “master plan” for Lincoln Yards to reflect changes requested by the community, including a new bridge at Armitage, an extended 606, a renovated Cortland Bridge and a Concord/Wisconsin bridge with vehicular and pedestrian access.