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Sears Centre Charging Ahead Despite Warnings

CHICAGO (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Officials in the Chicago suburb Hoffman Estates are moving ahead with plants to build the 11,000-seat Sears Centre, despite predictions from opponents in the nearby Village of Rosemont, home of the Allstate Arena and the Rosemont Theatre, that the new concert and sports arena will flop.

In an open letter to the people of Hoffman Estates, Rosemont’s director of entertainment facilities said the Sears Centre represents “an extreme risk of failure” and is unlikely to attract any guaranteed sports or entertainment events, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Harry Pappas, Executive Director of the Allstate Arena, said the taxes and fees Hoffman Estates seeks to tack onto its ticket prices would make tickets a tough sell and the Sears Centre “the last choice of show presenters.”

Pappas’ warning did not sway Hoffman Estates village trustees, who called the letter an “obvious effort to derail” the Sears Center. They voted to approve a feasibility study and move ahead with plans for the $60 million facility this past Tuesday.

The center would be build as early as fall 2006 on 35 acres at the Prairie Stone Business Park, 19 miles west of the Allstate Arena.

Despite the letter’s tone, Pappas told the paper that he wasn’t merely expressing anger over the Sears Centre. Rather, he said, he doesn’t envision the Sears Centre as competition for the 17,500-seat Allstate Arena, even though the feasibility study concluded otherwise.

"It's not a serious threat to us," Pappas told the paper. "My competition is the United Center. [Hoffman Estates] can't even begin to play that game. They have no money."

Pappas turned over letters from promoters who said they have no plans to bring their acts to the Sears Centre. The letters were from Feld Entertainment, which represents the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, Disney on Ice and VEE Corp., which represents the Dragon Tales children's show. In addition, music promoter Clear Channel Entertainment said it was unlikely that any of its acts would play in the Sears Centre.

Pappas wrote that he agreed with one conclusion of the study. "Given the prospect of 365 days of availability, the [Sears Centre] will dominate the high school graduation niche."

But Steve Hyman, who will operate the Sears Centre and book its acts, said Pappas' letter was clearly an attempt by Rosemont officials to eliminate competition. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers