Group Sues Chicago Suburb For Garth Brooks Information

The Better Government Association filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming the Chicago suburb of Rosemont shouldn’t keep secret the financial incentives it used to entice country music star Garth Brooks to play its arena.

The watchdog group filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court, claiming the village was wrong to black out the financial terms before releasing documents that the group requested under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

Photo: Barry Brecheisen / Invision / AP
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill.

Brooks chose Rosemont’s Allstate Arena to kick off his official return to the road after more than a decade largely away from the music industry. He played a series of concerts there in September.

“Those entertainment venues are taxpayer facilities,” said Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association in a statement. “How can taxpayers adequately gauge how well government is operating if nobody can see the books?”

Rosemont officials have said the information was exempt from disclosure because it constitutes “trade secrets.” Village officials wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit specifically on Thursday, but Mayor Brad Stephens has said releasing such information could cause Rosemont to lose its “competitive edge.”

Rosemont recently passed an ordinance allowing the mayor and village officials to withhold competitive information about village-owned entertainment venues.

The Chicago Tribune has requested similar records about Brooks’ concerts at Allstate Arena. The village redacted the amount of a rebate it gave Brooks’ promoter when it released documents to the Tribune, the newspaper said.

The Tribune has appealed to the Illinois attorney general’s public access office. The newspaper says the information should be made public because it involves taxpayer money.