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Uptown in the News  

December 1, 2006
Chicago Sun-times
Historic Uptown may get an encore at last
By Dave Roeder, Business Reporter

The landmark Uptown Theatre, 4816 N. Broadway, has been mostly unused for 25 years. Community-based plans for a revival foundered because little but hope was behind them.

Now, the Uptown has another chance. This one involves prospective buyers with money and, maybe, a real plan for putting the huge auditorium to use.

Two companies that specialize in concert promotions and large-scale entertainment, Live Nation, Inc., and AEG, have examined the property, sources said.

Live Nation bills itself as “the world’s leading live entertainment company” and owns such local venues as the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park and the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin. It bought the House of Blues nightclub chain a month ago, and also manages the bookings for the Charter One Pavilion on Northerly Island.

AEG owns Toyota Park in Bridgeview, home of another of its properties, the Chicago Fire, one of four Major League Soccer franchises it owns. It also owns the Los Angeles Kings hockey team and the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The city planning department declined to say if it has met with the companies. Spokeswoman Connie Buscemi said staffers “haven’t seen any proposals yet, but we look forward to doing so.”

Interesting Facts:

  • It opened in 1925 to the theme “an acre of seats in a magic city.” It closed in 1981.
  • The Spanish Baroque-style theater has a 120-foot marble-floored main lobby, $30,000 chandeliers and a sweeping grand staircase.
  • It contains 4,300 seats.
  • There were weekly stage shows until the late 1930’s, and then it became a movie palace.
  • Architects C.W. and George Rapp designed the theater, which was built in 1926 for $4 million.
  • Duke Ellington played the Uptown in 1931 followed decades later by Bob Marley, the Grateful Dead and Prince.
  • A glimpse of the Uptown’s interior was visible in the 1991 film “Backdraft,” where a small area of the theater was actually set ablaze.
  • City officials declared it a landmark in 1991.

To view the entire article for a fee, please visit the Chicago Sun-Times website at www.chicagotribune.com or www.suntimes.com/news/metro/156561,CST-NWS-uptown01.article.

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