Grateful Dead fans get 6 hours to tailgate outside Soldier Field

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In this May 9, 2009 file photo, Grateful Dead fans shop for tie-dye T-shirts in the parking lot of the Forum before a concert of The Grateful Dead, performing in the Inglewood section of Los Angeles. Grateful Dead fans failed to persuade Chicago’s Soldier Field to allow a campout-style atmosphere during a weekend of concerts in July 2015. | AP file photo

Grateful Dead fans will get six hours to tailgate outside Soldier Field before their highly anticipated three shows over the Fourth of July weekend.

It’s good news for many Deadheads who were dismayed to learn they won’t be allowed to camp or park overnight when the band reunites one last time.

Luca Serra, spokesman for SMG, the company that manages Soldier Field for the Chicago Park District, said Thursday that fans will be able to tailgate beginning at 1 p.m. each day. Shows will start at 7 p.m.

That’s a lot more time than the four hours Chicago Bears fans get when tailgating before night games, according to Serra.

After the show, though, there will be no tailgating allowed.

“For any night event that we have here, we never allow tailgating after the event,” Serra said.

Serra announced on Tuesday that overnight parking wouldn’t be allowed. That ruling dashed the hopes 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 a steady amount of Deadheads have come into the Soldier Field office.

“We’re not being inundated, but their fans are calling, asking us to reconsider. Some are coming to the stadium and once we talked to them, most of them are understanding and appreciative that the thought was there,” Serra said. “This is about fan safety . . . the reality is that when you have 70,000 people in one spot, it’s like operating a small city.”

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