Lollapalooza promoters seize Soldier Field

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As my colleague Andrew Herrmannn reports in today’s paper, when it meets this afternoon, the Chicago Park District board of commissioners is almost certain to rubber-stamp a new five-year, $50-million deal allowing national venue managers SMG and their new partners — Austin, TX-based concert promoters C3 Presents, the folks who bring Lollapalooza to Grant Park each summer — to manage the city’s biggest stadium, that landmark waterfront behemoth, Soldier Field.

What does this mean to rock fans, and why am I posting about it here?

As I first noted last week when I reported that control of Soldier Field was in play, this was a showdown between the giant national concert promoter Live Nation and those absurdly ambitious Texans at C3. Both have been in a relentless and ruthless competition with longtime Chicago promoters Jam Productions.

Until now, some industry observers discounted C3’s desire to play a bigger role in the Chicago concert and entertainment market — even though Lollapalooza has made a major impact on the summer concert calendar, and not for the best. Now, C3 will be responsible for bringing more music and other events to Soldier Field.

Andrew’s story today notes some of the events besides Bears games that are likely to take place at Soldier Field: Some hockey, some unspecified “extreme sports” and a rodeo(?!). There is no mention of what kind of music C3 wants to bring there, and when I repeatedly posed that question to the company’s main man, Charlie Jones, last week, he declined to answer. So we’ll just have to wait and see (and take a closer look at their proposal, once it becomes public after today’s meeting).

The bigger picture here is that Chicago is one of the few music markets left in America that is not dominated by one giant promoter. All three of the players here would like to change that. And the fallout for concertgoers is going to take a lot of forms — from fluctuating ticket prices to what acts we get to see and where — as the battle heats up and enters this new phase of combat.

Stay tuned for more reports from the front.

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