Jam’s Waiting Game

A 10,000-seat outdoor theatre proposed by Jam Productions in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates will not be able to open until the 2009 concert season at the earliest, while the company continues to wait for formal approval of the plan by village officials.

The Prairie Creek Amphitheatre is hoped to replace the now-closed Poplar Creek Music Theatre.

The theatre still needs approval from two committees this month before it finally reaches the village board.

"It’s just part of the normal process," Jam’s Jerry Mickelson told Pollstar. "We’re just waiting for the village to approve the project."

In the meantime, Mickelson held a public meeting to address nearby residents’ concerns about an outdoor concert venue being built near their neighborhoods.

During a January 10th meeting at the Sears Centre, Mickelsen fielded questions and complaints from about 150 residents. In response to community concerns, Jam has tweaked the building plan to mitigate noise concerns.

"We’ve made some changes to the design of the venue," Mickelson said. "It will face northeast rather than northwest and we’ve adjusted the rake in order to reduce the amount of space between the top rows of seats and the lower end of the roof. It should reduce the amount of sound escaping."

The steeper seating angle helps reduce escaping noise as sound waves are absorbed by the audience.

The theatre will be open in back, with a wall that will further block sound. Reducing the amount of space that allows remaining sound waves to escape is an additional means of keeping noise from bleeding into the neighborhoods.

The Prairie Creek Amphitheatre will not have lawn seats, and the roof will completely cover the seating area, which will include approximately 1,500 seats near the stage that can be removed to create a GA section, according to Mickelson.

Village Manager James Norris told the Hoffman Estates Daily Herald that Jam’s changes to the plan were "costly" but evidence Jam took residents’ concerns to heart.