Chicago Bears Fans Vow to Stop George Lucas Museum

George Lucas.
Photo: © 2014 Patrick McMullan Company, Inc.

The Force is not so strong with George Lucas these days. An improbable alliance of Chicago citizens concerned with the preservation of public space and Chicago citizens who really love the Chicago Bears is planning to sue the Star Wars filmmaker over his scheme to build a $1 billion private museum, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, on the city’s Lake Michigan lakefront near Soldier Field, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The group fighting for maintaining public and open space claims that Lucas’s plans for a 95,000-square-foot cultural institution are in direct violation of a city ordinance that ensures that space adjacent to Lake Michigan be reserved for public use. The other group threatening to sue over the choice of location for the museum—which will house artworks from Lucas’s private collection including pieces by Maxfield Parrish, Alberto Vargas, and Norman Rockwell, as well as Star Wars memorabilia—has a much more practical reason for its opposition: The institution would be built on a site that is currently devoted to two parking lots next to Soldier Field use by Bears fans for pregame tailgating.

These groups and others, including city aldermen, believe the museum should either be built downtown, or in one of Chicago’s many disadvantaged neighborhoods that could benefit from a major tourist attraction. However, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is standing behind the lakefront, stadium-adjacent site, and does not see the threatened lawsuits as a serious challenge.

“Our contribution is two parking lots,” Emanuel said in response to concerns that taxpayer money would help build the museum.

Lucas announced his intention to build his museum in Chicago—rather than San Francisco or Los Angeleslast month.

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