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Lucas Museum Belongs in Chicago, Not San Francisco, Rahm Insists

By Ted Cox | June 2, 2014 3:48pm
 Mayor Rahm Emanuel (l.) insists Chicago is the top location for the proposed George Lucas Cultural Arts Museum.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel (l.) insists Chicago is the top location for the proposed George Lucas Cultural Arts Museum.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox and Michael Buckner/Getty Images

CITY HALL — The mayor restated the case to locate George Lucas' Cultural Arts Museum on the Chicago lakefront Monday — and joked about the lengths he was willing to go to to win it.

Asked about the competition between the city and Lucas' hometown of San Francisco in bidding for the museum, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, "Obviously, San Francisco is not gonna lay down. Chicago is not gonna lay down."

Emanuel repeated that the museum, devoted to Lucas' collection of art and "Star Wars" movie-making memorabilia, potentially could create 2,500 construction jobs, 500 permanent jobs, and add about $150 million a year to city tax revenues.

All that aside, "I happen to think this is a good thing for the city educationally and culturally," Emanuel said. "I think that this would be a tremendous gain for the city, to our cultural and educational landscape and offerings, and it really would complete the museum campus."

Emanuel said the other major museums on the lakefront — the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium, as well as the Art Institute — are all "big advocates for this museum."

He defended the site selected by a hand-picked task force on what are now parking lots between Soldier Field and McCormick Place, saying, "This parking lot would actually add, converted, to the museum campus."

Emanuel did not address a proposal to put the museum in the McCormick Place Lakeside Center East Building, instead siding with the task force's recommendation to create a new building for it. He also deliberately ignored mentioning San Francisco's waterfront proposal.

Chicago and San Francisco have faced off over the museum, with Chicago touting its ties to Lucas through his wife, local business executive Mellody Hobson. When first asked how he was campaigning to win the museum, Emanuel said, "Well, I have taken Mellody and George's dry cleaning — picked it up and dropped it off."

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