Indie music venues band together against Live Nation deal in Lincoln Yards

The concert promoter plans at least five small music venues in Sterling Bay’s massive North Side development

(Credit: SOM/Sterling Bay, iStock)
(Credit: SOM/Sterling Bay, iStock)

At least a half-dozen Chicago music venues launched a coalition demanding a “seat at the table” in the planning process for Sterling Bay’s massive Lincoln Yards project, worried they’ll catch the short end of a deal between the developer and concert promoter Live Nation.

In May, Sterling Bay announced it would create at least five dedicated performance spaces for Live Nation concerts within Lincoln Yards, on top of a 20,000-seat soccer stadium that could double as a concert venue.

Sterling Bay principal Keating Crown said during a public meeting Thursday that Live Nation’s presence in the 53-acre development is “to be determined,” but the company will “own and operate several bars and other venues” on the site.

A few minutes before the meeting began, a group of local nightclub owners held a press conference to announce they’ve formed the Chicago Independent Venues league, or CIVL. They listed eight demands to city leaders and Sterling Bay, including that they slow down the planning process and include more local business owners in discussions over the venue plans.

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“Six venues in that space is going to change the music culture in this city substantially … and our message is that we need a thorough and transparent process to talk about it,” said Robert Gomez, owner of the Subterranean nightclub and co-chair of the venue owners’ group. “It’s time to stop with the closed-door meetings.”

The owners of The Hideout, a century-old music venue at the doorstep of the planned Lincoln Yards site, have rallied neighbors to challenge the city’s efforts to create a new tax increment financing district that would fund public infrastructure work around the development.

Alderman Brian Hopkins (2nd) vowed this month to designate The Hideout as a historic landmark, and Sterling Bay managing principal Andy Gloor said Thursday his company has no intention of buying the land underneath the bar. In August, the developer bought two other properties on the same block as The Hideout.

Owners of well-known Chicago music venues like The Empty Bottle, The Whistler, Metro, Promontory and Thalia Hall also have joined the coalition.