Concert Season Delayed at Charter One Pavilion, Dispatch Show Moved

By Lizzie Schiffman on May 30, 2013 4:57am | Updated on May 30, 2013 8:34am

 The field outside Charter One Pavilion will be a good place to camp out and listen — for a few hours, at least.
The field outside Charter One Pavilion will be a good place to camp out and listen — for a few hours, at least.
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Flickr/Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

SOUTH LOOP — Headaches caused by recent heavy rain in Chicago didn't end with flooded basements and citywide power outages: The weather also forced the Northerly Island music venue's first post-renovation concert to be relocated.

Dispatch, scheduled to play the former Charter One Pavilion Saturday, announced via Twitter and Facebook late Wednesday that its show would be relocated to UIC Pavilion after reps from Charter One warned that "their winter renovations wouldn't be completed in time for this Saturday's show."

"The venue will be more than ready to open" in time for the June 28 O.A.R. show, said Lora Schoenholtz, a spokeswoman for Live Nation, but the current state of construction can't accommodate the thousands of ticketholders expected at the June 1 concert.

"We were floored and upset because we were looking forward to spending an evening under the stars with over 7,000 of you," Dispatch posted on its Facebook page late Wednesday afternoon.

Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Park District, confirmed to DNAinfo.com Chicago Wednesday night that "because of the weather over the last couple of weeks, [construction crews] weren't able to dig in like they really would have liked to, so it's entirely possible" that the construction delays would force the show to relocate. 

Winds from 50 to 70 mph, street flooding and power loss accompanied a storm Tuesday that brought nearly 2 inches of rain to Midway Airport in a single hour, National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew Krein said. 

The weather delayed plans to expand the Northerly Island concert venue capacity to 30,000 people. With the addition of 6,000 permanent seats and lawn seating for about 22,000 concertgoers, the venue will host such big-ticket acts this year as Phish and Jimmy Buffett.

When the venue opens, it will be with a new name, since the short-term sponsorship deal with Charter One expired recently, Maxey-Faulkner said.

Thanks to Chicago Park District policy, the new venue will have more than triple the stated audience capacity — for a few hours, at least. Marta Juaniza, a Park District spokeswoman, said music fans will be allowed to camp outside the venue's boundaries until sunset, around 8:30 or 9 p.m. most evenings, and enjoy a few hours of ticket-free music.

"If people are at Northerly Island before dusk on a concert night, we will allow them to be at the park," Juaniza said, "but once it gets dark, and if they do not have a ticket, they will likely be asked to leave, as the park is then closed."

For shows that kick off early — like the one at 6:30 p.m. featuring O.A.R. with Andrew McMahon and Allen Stone June 28, — park visitors likely can catch the opener's set before the park officially closes.

If it's the headliner you're after, your best bet's probably a boat.

"Access to Northerly Island on concert nights will be limited to concert employees, audience members and boaters who need to access the harbor," Juaniza said, though those rules don't officially kick in until the sky is dark. "Bikers will be rerouted around the concert venue." 

Chicagoans who make a habit of visiting Northerly Island during its usual hours said they'd welcome the opportunity to add live music to their experience.

"If a band I liked was playing, and I could hear them for free outside [Charter One], would I cheap out and listen on this side? Yes," said Shae Watts, 27, a Wicker Park resident and recent transplant from Canada.

David Aviles, who owns Del Campo Tacos right outside the pavilion entrance, said he was thrilled that the venue was expanding its capacity.

"Last year was my first year out here, and I saw how crowded it could get on concert nights, and it's really nice, a really great atmosphere, a family environment," he said. "People come out here with their barbecues and sit outside, listen to the music. Business is great on show nights. I love it."

Parking costs will range from $30 to $49 on show nights, Juaniza from the Park District said, and the Adler Planetarium lot will house the VIP parking area.

Aviles said that's a $30 bump from the $19 daytime rate in the area surrounding his stand, but he said the "sacrifice" of high parking prices is worth the renovations they're funding.

"They'll put 'no parking' signs around Solidarity Drive, and raise up the prices of the parking. It is really bad, especially when people are coming to the museums and not the concerts. They have to suffer and pay the price," he said. "But I guess it's a little sacrifice for a lot of improvement. All that money from parking is covering the expenses for this improvement."

The "self-sufficient" rehabilitation of the venue, which includes expanding lawn seating and rotating the stage so it points southeast, will be paid for entirely by concert proceeds, and increases the Charter One Pavilion footprint from 4.78 acres to 6.9 acres.

"It's a sacrifice, but if it takes that sacrifice to improve Northerly Island, I'm for it," Aviles said. "It's gonna bring a lot of families out here, and as a business owner, it's great."

The Dispatch concert relocation will require some reconfigurations to seating, because UIC Pavilion has an open floor plus assigned seats, and the floor can't accommodate the expected turnout of roughly 7,000 attendees. To compensate, floor access will be assigned on a first-come-first-served basis, and the band will host a free "preconcert tailgating party" from 4:30-6 p.m. with hot dogs, burgers and drinks grilled up by band members. 

Ticketholders who bought their passes online also will receive a $4 fee refund from Ticketmaster as the UIC Pavilion has lower ticketing fees than Charter One Pavilion.

"The show on Saturday in Chicago is STILL ON and the guys are gonna do everything possible to make it a night you won't forget," the band said Wednesday on Facebook. "They might even have a few surprises up their sleeves."

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