You can now rent Daley Plaza for weddings and other private events

Fifty years after Pablo Picasso's 50-foot-tall sculpture was unveiled there, the city's sprawling Daley Plaza is ushering in another big change: renting out the space for private events.

The city is taking applications for weddings, corporate outings, marketing promotions and other private events at one of Chicago's most popular public spaces, at a cost of $5,000 per day, according to the Public Building Commission of Chicago and MB Real Estate.

The property is owned by the city and managed by MB, a Chicago-based commercial real estate brokerage.

Opening the space to private gatherings is a way to cover operational costs of the property, and is also in response to increased inquiries to rent the space, said Carina Sanchez, the commission's executive director.

"There's been a recent surge in interest in the plaza as more people are looking for unique wedding locations," Sanchez said.

Daley Plaza won't be the first publicly owned space used for private and commercial purposes. Chicagoans can already book events at Lincoln Park Zoo, for example, or pay hundreds of dollars for tickets to Lollapalooza in Grant Park.

Yet it remains to be seen how Chicagoans will react to seeing one of the Loop's best-known gathering spaces roped off for a bar mitzvah, fundraiser or cocktail reception.

The 88,000-square-foot plaza is widely known as home to the Picasso, which was dedicated amid much excitement — and head-scratching over what the sculpture was — on Aug. 15, 1967. The plaza, which also has a fountain, is along Clark, Washington, Dearborn and Randolph streets. It is known for public events such as the Christkindlmarket each winter, a farmers market on Thursdays during warm weather and other cultural events.

The plaza is available to private groups for $5,000 a full day, or $2,500 for the four-hour minimum, according to a property brochure. Nonprofit groups can rent it for $1,500 a day or $750 for four hours. Events can run from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sanchez said, with setup starting as early as 5 a.m.

The plaza currently generates $25,000 to $30,000 annually, and opening it up to private events is expected to increase revenue by 25 percent, Sanchez said.

The commission's board in December approved a resolution authorizing it to allow private and corporate uses of the plaza, Sanchez said.

Daley Plaza already had one trial run for private events, Time Out Chicago's Battle of the Burger event on July 19. The event included food from 14 restaurants and was attended by more than 800 people, according to MB Real Estate and the commission.

Sanchez said no one complained about closing off the plaza that night, or for other events.

"It's something we want to share with everybody," Sanchez said. "Imagine getting married in front of the Picasso, with the fountain in the background."

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