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Chicago Venues Unite to Protest Proposed Live Nation Expansion

A group of independent music venues in Chicago has formed an alliance to protest a proposed development in the city that would include several new venues run by Live Nation. Today, Empty Bottle, Metro, Thalia HallSubterraneanSchubas, Lincoln Hall, The Hideout, and others tweeted public invitations to attend a rally tomorrow prior to a scheduled community meeting where real estate developer Sterling Bay’s revised proposal detailing the reported $6 billion mixed-use development, dubbed Lincoln Yards, will be unveiled. Chicago Tribune reported in May that Live Nation has agreed to help Sterling Bay fund the development, including the construction of three to five music venues managed and booked by the events promotion corporation.

Local venues have framed the proposed development as an existential threat. The Whistler and others tweeted that the coalition hopes to “save Chicago’s indie music scene.” Live Nation manages Chicago’s largest music festival, Lollapalooza, whose numerous after-parties have long been hosted by independent venues. One venue owner described the newly proposed Live Nation venues to Block Club Chicago as “vertical integration” and “a monopolistic move.” The Empty Bottle tweeted that the project “will use tax money to close Chicago’s independent music venues,” referencing Sterling Bay’s request that the city designate the proposed development site as a so-called TIF district, where a portion of property tax revenue is redirected to subsidize private development.

Live Nation currently operates two venues in Chicago, Huntington Bank Pavilion and the House of Blues. Music venues’ rally contesting the company’s local expansion, and the Lincoln Yards development at large, takes place at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow at Park Community Church. We’ve reached out to Live Nation and alliance members for comment.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the number of Chicago venues operated by Live Nation.