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No Stadium, No Live Nation: Alderman Hopkins Tosses Wrench Into Sterling Bay's Lincoln Yards Plan

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Lincoln Yards
A portion of Sterling Bay's Lincoln Yards proposal

Second Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins threw Sterling Bay some curveballs yesterday over its $5B Lincoln Yards proposal. In an email to constituents, he announced he would not support its plan for a 20,000-seat soccer stadium on the North Side site once occupied by Finkl Steel.

That is welcoming news for local residents, many of whom feared professional soccer games would clog their streets with cars and drunken fans. Hopkins has instead asked the developer to use that land for open and recreational space.

But that wasn’t Hopkins’ only veto. He also informed Sterling Bay it could not create an entertainment district run by Live Nation, a Beverly Hills-based events promoter supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Owners of local music clubs, such as the Hideout, worried the proposed development could drive them out of the neighborhood.

“The Entertainment District will be eliminated from a revised plan and replaced by restaurants, theaters, and smaller venues that will be scattered throughout the site. LiveNation will have no ownership interest in any of these venues,” according to Hopkins’ statement.  

The alderman’s strong stand comes after several community meetings on the project, which attracted huge crowds, including many residents angry about the drastic change Lincoln Yards would bring to their quiet residential streets.

The developer has proposed, in addition to the stadium and entertainment district, a series of towers that could reach up to 650 feet, heights only seen downtown and along the lakefront.

The tradition of "aldermanic privilege" means City Council members generally have the power to veto any project within their wards, and Sterling Bay has indicated it would revise the plan accordingly.

A company spokesperson said it would release a statement later this afternoon outlining the next steps.

Hopkins said Emanuel, in response to the worries over future traffic congestion, has directed city planners to speed up the reconfiguration of the Armitage/Ashland/Elston intersection, a key component of the Lincoln Yards plan.

“While these recent changes to the 70 acres that comprise Lincoln Yards are intended to reflect community concerns, the process is ongoing and will continue to be refined over many years, if not decades,” Hopkins said.