Clear Channel Picked To Build Chicago Amphitheater

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Clear Channel Entertainment has been tapped by the Chicago Park District Board to build a temporary 10,000-seat amphitheater at Northerly Island, former site of Meigs Fields airport, and present 25 to 30 concerts annually. The three-year contract includes two option years.

Jam Productions originally proposed the idea of having a music venue at Northerly Island in 2003 after Mayor Daley closed the airport, and is none too happy with the Park District’s choice of operators.

”We blazed the trail. We came up with it. Why isn't aggressiveness and creativity rewarded? [Now] I wish I had never proposed it,'' Jerry Mickelson, who founded Jam Productions in 1972 with Arny Granat, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Park District Supt. Timothy Mitchell said Clear Channel made a better proposal and also offered advertising and promotion plans via its seven Chicago radio station and billboard company, the paper reported. The district also noted that Clear Channel offered more “guaranteed” money, which Mickelson disputes.

With plans to develop the island as a nature preserve, the district hopes to raise $800,000 through concerts and use the money to cover expenses at the island and for the nature preserve planning. Mickelson said he offered $1 million or more, the paper reports.

In the Chicago market, Clear Channel already books the Tweeter Center. "Having one company control two major outdoor venues is not healthy for the market,'' said Mickelson.

Jam is currently in court with Clear Channel over an anti-trust lawsuit it filed over rights to promote AMA motocross events, which they were awarded by the AMA. The deal ultimately fell through, with Clear Channel getting the contract. –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

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