03/19/2013 02:12 pm ET

Northerly Island Pavilion Expansion: New Proposal Would Give Outdoor Venue Major Boost By Summer

A new expansion has been proposed for Northerly Island — the stunning-yet-underused gem on Chicago's lakefront — that could transform the park space's small-capacity venue into a “Ravinia-type” concert space.

The Chicago Park District is proposing the addition of a lawn seating area to the current Charter One Pavilion, upping the venue's capacity to more than 20,000 people, according to Fox Chicago.

"No global city in the world has this opportunity to have lawn seating in a nature area out on the water in a vibrant, major downtown area with a world-class skyline as a backdrop," said Bob O'Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy and Advisory Council according to the Tribune.

In addition, the $3 million Live Nation-funded project would up the number of pavilion seats by 600 and shift the east-facing stage to face the south, reports the Sun-Times.

Expansion could start in the spring if approved, in time for summer concerts like the upcoming three-night Phish jam in July. The city's Plan Commission is set to meet Thursday to discuss the proposal.

Last summer, the Park District announced plans to transform the urban green space into not just a bustling entertainment venue but a camping ground as well, reports ABC Chicago.

This month marks 10 years since former Mayor Richard Daley razed Meigs Field under the cover of night. While it enraged many at the time, the Daley-ordered carve up of the small lakefront airport paved the way for the 91-acre space to be used by the public.

Emanuel has since praised the unilateral move as the "right thing to do."



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