FirstMerit Bank Pavilion
|The Venue with a View|
Venue under former signage
|Former names||Lakefront Pavilion (planning/construction)
Charter One Pavilion (2005-13)
|Address||1300 S Lynn White Dr
Chicago, IL 60605
|Owner||Chicago Park District
(operated by Live Nation)
|Opened||June 24, 2005|
|Construction cost||$1.7 million
$3 million (2013 expansion)
The FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island (formerly the Charter One Pavilion) is an outdoor amphitheater located on the man-made peninsula, Northerly Island, in Chicago, Illinois. Opening June 2005, the venue is a temporary structure, with the season running from June until September. Known as the "Venue with a View", the amphitheater has views of Lake Michigan, Burnham Harbor, Soldier Field and the Chicago Skyline.
The venue lies on the former site of Meigs Field. On March 30, 2003, Mayor Richard M. Daley ordered a midnight demolition of the airfield. The construction crew excavated six large X's on the runway. Daley stated the continued operation of the airfield was a threat to Chicago's cityscape, using the events of 9/11 as a reference. The airfield was set to continue operation until 2011, when it would be turned over to the City of Chicago. No one within state or city government were consulted on the demolition besides Daley. The Federal Aviation Administration fined the city $33,000, with an additional one million paid in grants.
In August 2003, construction crews were sent in to continue demolition of the airfield. Originally, the space was planned to become an aviation museum. Daley refuted the plan and proposed the space become a lakefront park and nature reserve. Within the allocated 91 acres, Northerly Island was born. Over four acres were set aside for the forthcoming music venue.
About the venue
With his new advent of the nature reserve to replace Meigs Field, the Chicago Park District proposed an outdoor music venue, similar to the Ravinia Pavilion. Construction began in December 2004. Since the venue would be located on the nature reserve, the structure erected in June and disassembled in September of each year. The venue was designed by Mark Dewalt of Valerio Dewalt Train Associates; costing $1.7 million to construct. The amphitheater features a 56'x40' feet stage with 15'x20' feet video screens on either side of the stage. It features three grandstands (totaling 3,666 seats) and a general admission area (totaling 4,500 seats). The Chicago Park District receives roughly $250,000 from the venue (through sponsorship deals) and $1 from every ticket sold during concert season. The venue opened June 24, 2005, with a concert by American band, Earth, Wind & Fire.
The Chicago Park District originally sought expansion in 2010, wanting to expand capacity to 14,000 and attract mainstream acts to the venue. The city voted again the expansion in 2011. In March 2013, the Chicago Plan Commission approved a $3 million plan to expand the venue from 8,000 to 30,000 seats. This would mean rotating the stage to feature a lawn seating area, expanding the overall space of the venue from 4.78 to 6.9 acres. Additionally, two 300-seat grandstands were added, while the lawn arena can accommodate 22,000. There's a 12-foot slope from the front of stage to the rear of lawn, providing the proper elevation change, so that the lawn can be used as a park area, when not in use by the pavilion. The expansion also includes shuttle buses from the neighboring Soldier Field, to help concert attendees with parking. The main entrance was widened to accommodate the capacity expansion. Delay systems for sound were added to the stage and lawn area. The original video screens were replaced by two 14'x27' LED screens and two 11'x17' LED screens in the lawn area.
The newly renovated venue was expected to open June 27, 2013. However, due to heavy rainfall the opening was postponed. Concerts by Dispatch and O.A.R. were relocated to the UIC Pavilion. It was opened on June 29, 2013 by Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band.
Upon original conception, the venue was known as the Lakefront Pavilion. On June 22, 2005, it was announced Charter One Financial purchased naming rights for five years, for $2.5 million. From 2005 until 2013, the venue was known as the Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island. With new construction underway, it was revealed the venue was seeking a new sponsorship deal. In June 2013, Ohio-based FirstMerit Corporation purchased a multi-year naming rights agreement. The length of the contract and amount were not disclosed. Beginning June 27, 2013, the venue is now known as the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion.
- Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island (June 24, 2005 - June 26, 2013)
- FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island (June 27, 2013 – Present)
- Incubus - Look Alive, filmed July 25, 2007 and released November 27, 2007
- O.A.R. - Rain or Shine, recorded June 18-19, 2009 and released January 12, 2010
- Jason Mraz - Beautiful Mess: Live on Earth, filmed August 13, 2009 and released November 6, 2009
- FirstMerit Bank Pavilion
- FirstMerit Bank Pavilion on Facebook
- FirstMerit Bank Pavilion on Twitter
- Design of venue
- 3D Warehouse Model
- McKeough, Kevin (June 30, 2013). "Review: Jimmy Buffett Delivers, but Northerly Island Doesn't", Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 30, 2013.
- "Chicago Lakefront Pavilion Gets New Name, Corporate Sponsorship; Venue Designated as Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island" (Press release). Chicago, Illinois: WebWire. June 22, 2005. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- "Charter One Pavilion". Chicago Architecture. Artefaqs Corporation. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- "Daley Cries 'Uncle,' Reaches Deal With FAA For Meigs Mess". Aero-News Network. September 19, 2006. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- Erbeck, Sue-Lyn; Claxton, Keith (June 23, 2005). "Northerly exposure". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- Kot, Greg (June 27, 2005). "Stunning skyline". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- Delgado, Jennifer; Hirst, Ellen Jean (March 19, 2013). "Charter One Pavilion to get massive lawn seating". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- Doyle, Bridget (March 21, 2013). "Panel OKs expansion of Charter One Pavilion". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- Lee, Sophia (June 27, 2013). "Chicago's 'new' arena; location, location, location". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- "Live Nation Entertainment Unveils 2013 Renovation, Upgrade and Expansion Plan for Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island". Chicago Park District. March 25, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- Schiffman, Lizzie (May 30, 2013). "Concert Season Delayed at Charter One Pavilion, Dispatch Show Moved". DNAinfo.com. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- "Bank names concert venue". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. June 23, 2005. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- "Live Nation's Chicago Lakefront Venue Announces New Name: FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island". Chicago Park District. June 28, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2013.