Too late to hit the brakes at the NASCAR race in Grant Park, Ald. Riley moves to limit future special events

It’s too late to put the brakes on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to turn Chicago’s most famous road into a 12-turn 2.2-mile show this July for the first street track race in NASCAR’s 75-year history — an event that would tie part of Grant Park for two weeks.

But downtown dr. Brendan Riley (42) wants to make sure that doesn’t happen again—at least, not without notifying local council members, and the city council’s approval.

At Wednesday’s city council meeting, Riley made good on his promise to try to rein in the virtually absolute power the mayor now has to sign off on big special occasions that take over parks for days or weeks at a time, block Chicago roads and generally annoy locals.

His ordinance requires an order from the City Council for any sporting event or special event:

• It is allowed to close a state road or an arterial road or more than four blocks from any other public road.

• Requires closure of any part of the public road for more than 24 consecutive hours.

• Or, more than 10,000 people are reasonably expected to attend.

Events with more than 10,000 spectators will also be required to have a council-approved permit agreement outlining the obligations of the permit holder or sponsor to reclaim public property, reimburse the city and indemnify the city.

ald.  Brendan Riley (42) speaks during a Chicago City Council meeting on July 20, 2022.

ald. Brendan Riley (42) speaks during a Chicago City Council meeting.

The decree would “enhance and standardize” the German review of all kinds of sporting and private events, even those that do not result in a council order.

In an email to Sun-Times, Reilly said the ordinance would “restore the balance of power” between the executive and legislative branches and ensure “attendance to special events such as NASCAR, NFL Draft, Lollapalooza and others, reviewed and approved by the City Council.”

“We’ve seen the executive branch choose to unilaterally approve major special events that affect hundreds of thousands of city residents—without any feedback or purchase from council members,” Riley wrote recently.

“This decree will end the executive branch’s unilateral control over these events and will bring more transparency and discussion about these major events that affect our neighborhoods, our public safety, and our city budget.”

The announcement of the upcoming NASCAR race to Chicago drew a crowd for a panel discussion on the sport's popularity.

The July announcement of the upcoming NASCAR race to Chicago drew a crowd for a panel discussion on the sport’s popularity.

Riley and at least three of his teammates – Brian Hopkins (second), Pat Doyle (third) and Sophia King (fourth) – complained that they were kept in the dark before the mayor’s announcement of the NASCAR race – something Lightfoot denied.

They bolstered their opposition after the Chicago Park District approved a licensing agreement for “non-racing event activities” associated with the NASCAR Cup Series that allows the organizer to occupy part of Grant Park for 14 days – from June 22 to July 5, 2023.

The Chicago Park District defined the “event trail” as Roosevelt Road north to Randolph Street, and Michigan Avenue east to DuSable Lake Shore Drive. Park District officials have pledged to work with organizers to ensure public access during the event is “minimum impact.”

The mayor insisted there would be no complete shutdown.

“There’s clearly a period of accumulation or removal of things like Lolla, of things like what will happen with NASCAR,” the mayor said, referring to the annual Lollapalooza Music Festival.

But she added that the claim that “Grant Park will be closed completely” is not accurate.

She noted that “in the days leading up to the race and the days immediately following,” there will be “a period of time where construction takes place, and then dismantling occurs. But … we will work with NASCAR to make sure we minimize inconvenience to any resident and increase their chances of continuing to enjoy.” By Grant Park.”

Lightfoot acknowledged the “inconvenience” associated with Lollapalooza, as well as with NASCAR, but argued that “showing Chicago on the world stage during the nationally televised race, the first of its kind” was worth it.

In July, just days after Lola’s unilateral race in Grant Park was extended for at least another 10 years, the mayor said, “I can’t tell you the total number of strangers who came to me over the weekend and today as [who] He said: Oh my God, your city is wonderful. I said thanks. I agree. And spend a lot of money.”

More tools sought to eliminate street racing

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, Riley moved to impose tough fines on spectators who congregate at Chicago intersections to watch daring drag racers and drivers perform their dangerous stunts.

Fines for organizing a “reckless driving event” range from $1,000 to $2,000. Participants will face fines ranging from $500 to $2,000. Spectators will pay anywhere from $100 to $250 fines.

The law would also ban drag racing, drifting and acrobatic driving on city-owned and owned properties — as well as a public road — and expand the dreaded penalty of confinement to these “reckless drivers.”

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