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Grateful Dead: Will Chicago let 'Deadheads' camp at Soldier Field?

The Grateful Dead will play in July. An online petition - with 8,000 signatures as of Saturday - asks that fans be allowed to park and camp overnight in lots surrounding Soldier Field stadium along Lake Michigan.

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Fans of the Grateful Dead want a campout style atmosphere during three 50th anniversary concerts in July at Chicago's Soldier Field, but whether the venue will allow it is another question.

Jeremy Davis, of Florida, started an online petition — which had about 8,000 signatures by Saturday —asking that overnight parking be allowed in lots surrounding the stadium along Lake Michigan.

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Davis said it would keep the anticipated tens of thousands of fans from crowding downtown streets and reduce traffic congestion. He added that fans — eager for what could be one of the band's last shows — are willing to pay more and it could be an economic opportunity for Chicago.

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Also, it's long been a Deadhead tradition with fans bringing RV's to concerts with "no negativity," he said.

"It's something that we've been doing for so long," said Davis, who works in finance but also makes jewelry sold at concerts "This is almost a no brainer."

The Grateful Dead have announced three concerts on July 3, 4, and 5. 

 Officials in Chicago said many factors have to be considered, among them safety. Opening lots around Soldier Field for more than four hours prior to the show — the typical time — will take resources and coordination from police, the fire department and other agencies. He said an evaluation would take place over the coming weeks.

"While we understand the desires of some of the community, this is something that requires a cooperative evaluation from several entities to make a determination," said Soldier Field spokesman Luca Serra.

The area around Soldier Field isn't new to festival-style concerts. For the last decade, Chicago's lakefront Grant Park has hosted Lollapalooza, where dozens of musical artists perform over several days.

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For Davis, the Grateful Dead's Chicago concerts during the July 4 holiday weekend could be a meaningful and final opportunity to see other fans. Several original band members are reuniting for the "Fare Thee Well" concerts. The band gave its final performances with lead singer Jerry Garcia in Chicago in July 1995. He died later that year.

"This is the last chance for the family to be together," Davis said.

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Follow Sophia Tareen at http://twitter.com/sophiatareen .


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