Philadelphia-based facility management firm SMG reached a new five year deal yesterday with the Chicago Park District board of commissioners to run the city's Soldier Field, and Austin-based C3 Presents has aligned with SMG to bring concerts to the venerable stadium.

The bid to operate Soldier Field was apparently hotly contested, with Live Nation (partnered with a local real estate firm) and Global Spectrum also vying for the contract. SMG has held the management contract at Soldier since 1994.

"C3 is part of our successful bid in renewing our deal with Soldier Field," Mike Evans, senior VP, SMG Sports & Entertainment, tells Billboard.biz, adding that the goal is to bring in more events to the home of the NFL's Chicago Bears in a venue-competitive market.

"We have this beautiful property on Lake Michigan, so what other things can we do there?," says Evans. "C3 is right there in Chicago, they do Lollapalooza there, they're active in a lot of other areas in Chicago, and they specialize in alternative-type of events."

Evans says SMG is currently working with C3 on such projects as a Latino festival, a food festival, a military festival, and a rodeo event for Soldier. "C3 is not conflicted in the marketplace, they don't have other venues that they have to book first, and it just made sense," he adds. "They were the right people in the right time at the right place."

The deal with C3 at Soldier is, however, not exclusive. "They're in a lot of our buildings and they're not exclusive anywhere," Evans says. "We have Kenny Chesney going on sale next week promoted by Louis Messina and AEG Live. We also have holds in place with Live Nation and Jam."

Asked if the Soldier SMG/C3 alliance heralds a national content deal between the two companies, Evans responds, "We have business arrangements with just about every major promoter out there, some that are public, some that aren't. Right now, C3's hitting the sweet spot for us. They're coming to me with opportunities, why wouldn't I make use of those opportunities?"

C3 has been particularly aggressive in bringing business to SMG's buildings in secondary and tertiary markets, Evans adds. "AEG and Live Nation get more focused on the major markets every day," he says. "C3 is very important to SMG, as are Outback Concerts and Brad Garrett at Police Productions, because those three in particular are working our secondary and tertiary markets from coast to coast."

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