Despite dangerous conditions, Congress Theater to stay open this weekend

City's motion to close the theater denied; another inspection set for Monday

April 18, 2013

DNAInfo’s Kyla Gardner reports that Cook County Judge James McGing is allowing the troubled Congress Theater to remain open for three shows this weekend despite the city’s long list of “hazardous and dangerous” conditions at the 87-year-old venue, pending another city inspection Monday.

Country singer Easton Corbin is set to perform tonight; the Funky Meters are booked as part of CIMMFest tomorrow, and the reggae act Rebelution is scheduled to appear on Saturday, though McGing ordered that no more tickets be sold for these shows, according to Gardner’s report.

Among the biggest questions looming so far over recent developments: How did city safety departments criticized for ignoring unsafe conditions at the E2 Nightclub that resulted in the deaths of 21 people in 2003 similarly turn a blind eye to hazards at the Congress for so long before last Friday when the motion was filed? Especially given the fact that the Department of Business Affairs began Deleterious Impact/Public Nuisance proceedings against the venue and owner Erineo “Eddie” Carranza in March 2012?

UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune reports that the next court date that could shutter the Congress will take place Tuesday at 11 a.m., following the new inspection Monday. The paper quoted city attorney Judy Frydland: "It's a big theater with a lot of issues... This is the city being concerned about safety. It's nothing personal or political."

Demetrius Kare, Carranza's fourth attorney in seven months, declined comment to the Tribune. But Carranza spoke to DNAInfo later Wednesday, telling reporter Gardner: "The city and us are making great progress. I'm being pushed to do it, and I'm gladly doing it, and I'm doing it as fast as I can."