After more than a year with the curtains closed, Broadway in Chicago is reopening in the Loop, with "RENT" opening at the CIBC Theater on Tuesday night.
It has the potential to bring back millions of dollars lost during the coronavirus pandemic.
Michael Edwards, CEO of The Chicago Loop Alliance, said the reopening of theaters could boost pedestrian traffic in the Loop by 20%.
"Thirty-five thousand seats, seven nights a week, that’s a lot of people," Edwards said. "Theater is a huge part of what makes the Loop go."
Edwards said the annual economic impact of theater and the arts in Chicago's Loop is $2.5 billion.
It’s no surprise why Jason Williams, general manager of the Grillroom Chop House and Wine Bar, has been anxiously waiting for this day to come.
"It means everything to us," said Williams. "The theater is something we’ve definitely been waiting for and so excited to have it back."
Williams said up to 75% of the restaurant's business can come from a show playing at the theater across the street.
On Tuesday night, all available reservations at the restaurant were booked.
Lou Raizin, president of Broadway in Chicago, said 50% of audience members for shows come from more than 100 miles away.
"It’s huge. Today is huge," said Raizin. "Once we crest the new year, that’s when the machine really starts to kick back into high gear."
Broadway in Chicago is already booking shows at its four theaters in the Loop through 2023.
All 11 theaters in the Loop are expected to reopen in the coming months.