Millennium Park: First Chicagoan, First Served?

Alderman wants to give city residents preferential seating at Pritzker

By Matt Bartosik
|  Friday, Nov 6, 2009  |  Updated 1:04 PM CDT
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One alderman is sick of suburbanites claiming the best seats at Millennium Park.

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At movie theatres and free concerts, some of the most annoying people are 'dibsters.'

We've all encountered dibsters. They're the people who show up at the performance and 'save' an entire row of seats for their late friends, depriving punctual people of desirable seating. Saving a seat for your date or a couple friends is reasonable, but saving such a large block is just plain inconsiderate and rude.

And yet, that is exactly what is happening at Millennium Park's Pritzker Pavilion, according to Ald. Eugene Schulter (47th).

"You have people from the suburbs who get there earlier and glom onto all the seats. They're putting their blankets across rows and rows of chairs," said the alderman at a City Council budget hearing.

"I was just wondering if there's a way that there could be like a 15-minute time period where the people from our city have the opportunity to be seated first. Then after that, anybody" could be seated.

Cultural Affiars Commissioner Lois Weisberg didn't buy it: "Everyone is given a period of time when they're able to be seated, no matter where they come from. And I'm there an awful lot of the time. I don't think we have an influx of suburban people coming."

But Schulter didn't let up. He explained that he has been receiving several complaints from his constituents on the matter.

"What we're trying to do is look at — especially during these hard times — that our city residents are at least given some consideration somehow," Schulter said.

Weisberg still wasn't convinced: "I don't believe in any kind of favoritism — whether they're city residents or suburban people."

Chicago residents are paying $7 million in taxes every year to support operations and maintenance at Millennium Park. But suburbanites may argue that they have to drive into the city and pay expensive parking fees.

So what do you think, do Chicagoans deserve preferential seating? Leave your thoughts and comments below.

Matt Bartosik, a "between blogs" blogger, is in the hot seat.

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