Proposed Plans for USL Soccer Stadium in Downtown Chicago Fall Through

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and developer Sterling Bay wanted to build a 20,000-seat stadium for a new USL franchise in Chicago.
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Proposed plans for a 20,000-seat stadium for a new United Soccer League franchise in Chicago, owned by Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, have been rejected. Alderman Brian Hopkins informed his constituents of the decision on Tuesday, according to TheChicago Tribune.

The USL features leagues in the second and third tiers of U.S. Soccer's domestic structure behind Major League Soccer.

Sterling Bay, the Chicago developer behind the mixed-use project on the city's North Side, had proposed the stadium as part of an entertainment district with venues that would be run by Live National Entertainment. Hopkins told Bay that the $5 billion development has to be seriously revised before it is approved.

Bay's rejected 70-acre-plan had included more than 12 million square feet of office, residential, hotel and retail space along with 20.9 acres of open space and the proposed sports and entertainment venues at Lincoln Yards. The soccer stadium was part of a joint venture between Bay and Ricketts, who announced their goal of bringing a United Soccer League franchise to Lincoln Yards in May.

Hopkins does not support the proposed sports and entertainment venues, per the Tribune, and would rather see the space be developed into an open recreational space. He wants the proposed entertainment district to be “replaced by restaurants, theaters, and smaller venues that will be scattered throughout the site. Live Nation will have no ownership interest in any of these venues.”

Hopkins told the Tribune that Bay will be able to revise the plan and present it for reconsideration at a public meeting to be held in the future.

“Sterling Bay has work to do today,” Hopkins told the publication. “I’m not offering any support for this planned development yet. What I’m doing today is saying what I won’t support. I’m giving Sterling Bay guidance based on the public input we’ve had.”

Without the proposed 20,000-seat stadium, Ricketts role as a majority owner may now be in question.

“The Ricketts family’s potential involvement was focused on the soccer team and contingent on city approvals,” family spokesman Dennis Culloton told the Tribune in an email. “While we are disappointed the concept is no longer included in the master plan, we understand the ambitious Lincoln Yards project needs to move forward.”

USL issued the following statement in light of the development:

In a separate deal announced last spring, Bay and Live Nation announced plans to form a joint venture to bring as many as five entertainment venues to the area.