Grateful Dead fans will not be allowed to camp or park overnight outside Soldier Field when the psychedelic rock band — minus deceased lead singer Jerry Garcia — reunites one last time for a heavily anticipated trio of shows over the Fourth of July weekend.
“The decision has been made that overnight parking is not going to be permitted,” said Luca Serra, a spokesman for SMG, the company that manages Soldier Field for the Chicago Park District.
Serra said an exception allowing overnight parking was made only once in recent years to accommodate a small group of college football fans.
The ruling eviscerates the hope of thousands of Deadheads who signed an online petition imploring the city to let them park overnight outside the stadium. Camping on land outside the stadium will also not be allowed, Serra said.
The travel website Travelocity showed nearly all hotels in the Loop and South Loop that are walking distance from Soldier Field were sold out.
The Chicago Police and Fire Departments — citing safety concerns — weighed in on the parking matter, according to Serra, who was unsure if the issue reached the desk of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
An Emanuel spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The band is also exploring ideas on how to accommodate thousands of fans who didn’t get tickets, Serra said.
Everything from adding several hundred standing-room tickets to hosting a festival-type scenario with a live feed of the performance on the lawn outside the stadium is being considered.
“There’s a lot of ideas out there right now to do something for those folks . . . I can’t comment on it now,” said Serra, noting that holiday weekend lakefront boat and foot traffic will complicate logistics.
About 70,000 fans are expected to attend each show, Serra said.
The shows will start at 7 p.m. and will include two 90-minute sets punctuated by one intermission, Serra said; the show is expected to end before 11 p.m. but could go longer.
“We just work with the city and let them know when the show will end,” Serra said.
“We can go beyond 11 without submitting formal paperwork or going to the city for an exemption,” he added. “After the show, fans will have about an hour to clear out and get in cars and head home.”
The Grateful Dead will return to Soldier Field in July, but their fans will not be allowed to camp outside the stadium. | Associated Press