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Attendees gather in Douglass Park for day one Riot Fest on the Southwest Side, Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-TimesAttendees stroll the familiar grounds of Riot Fest at Douglass Park in 2023, for what has turned out to be the last one on the site.Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times, File

Attendees stroll the familiar grounds of Riot Fest at Douglass Park in 2023, for what has turned out to be the last one on the site.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times, File

Riot Fest is moving to SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview for new 'RiotLand' venture; lineup announced

The festival will be exiting Douglass Park after a 10-year run that has been plagued by controversy in recent years.

Location. Location. Location.

The real estate mantra has taken on whole new meaning with the official announcement Wednesday morning that Riot Fest is moving out of Douglass Park and heading to SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview for a newly christened RiotLand extravaganza.

The festival, running Sept. 20-22, will feature more than 90 bands and encompass RiotLand, an immersive “Choose Your Own Adventure” world, Wednesday’s announcement said.

Word of the big move was teased late Tuesday night via a social media video statement from festival co-founder, Mike Petryshyn, better known as “Riot Mike.” In his statement, Petryshyn placed the blame for the move squarely on the Chicago Park District.

“Riot Fest will be leaving Douglass Park,” Petryshyn wrote. “And — allow me to be as clear as the azure sky of the deepest summer — our exodus is solely because of the Chicago Park District.”

In a letter to the media on Wednesday morning, 24th alderwoman Monique Scott also expressed her own disappointment with the Park District’s approval process regarding permits for the festival, which has taken place at the park in her ward since 2015.

“I want to express my resolute support for Riot Fest and the need to address the challenges they have faced with the Chicago Park District process, which has ultimately led to the festival’s decision to relocate.

“The park district acknowledged that the festival has far exceeded the minimum approval requirements and is scheduled to be granted approval at the June 12th Board meeting. This decision, while appropriate, came too late. Per park district policy, the original approval should have been granted in April.”

Irene Tostado, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Park District, said in an email to the Chicago Sun-Times Wednesday that the agency has learned “indirectly” of Riot Fest’s plans to pull out of Douglass Park, but that the permit application for the event hasn’t been withdrawn.

“The Chicago Park District has worked tirelessly to strike a balance between community interests and our special events organizers,” Tostado said. “Community voices are critical to our decision-making process, which is why a comprehensive community engagement process is a necessary component in evaluating a permit application. Last year, Riot Fest organizers completed this process successfully, received a permit and hosted their event in Douglass Park.”

Tostado noted that the park district this year announced a new initiative to reinvest a portion of the event fund revenue back to parks that host events with 3,000 or more attendees.

The new location, some 15 miles southwest of the city, will definitely be an issue when it comes to transporation for thousands of festival goers who have relied on public transportation to get to and from the festival.

Riot Fest co-founder Michael Petryshyn wears a black T-shirt and black rimmed eyeglasses as he poses on a metal spiral staircase with a blurred yellow brick wall in the background.

Riot Fest co-founder Michael Petryshyn, otherwise known as “Riot Mike,” sits down for an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times at the Riot Fest offices in River West, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Riot Fest is the third music festival to depart Douglass Park. Lyrical Lemonade’s Summer Smash festival moved to SeatGeek Stadium last year and the 2024 event is set for this weekend at the suburban venue. The Heatwave music festival also relocated from the park to the Huntington Bank Pavilion on Northerly Island in 2023.

Riot Fest moved to Douglass Park in 2015 following complaints from neighbors at its old location in Humboldt Park on the Northwest Side. The complaints followed the festival to its new location. Residents and community organizers had long campaigned for Riot Fest and other summer music festivals to leave Douglass Park.
They claimed the festivals disturbed patients at nearby Mount Sinai Hospital and tied up park resources for local residents.

Supporters of the festival pointed to the benefits of an economic boost to the area from increased foot traffic.

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