Poplar Creek Music Theater
Hoffman Estates, Illinois

Poplar Creek was an outdoor concert venue located in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. The property consisted of 200 acres at the intersection of Higgins Road and Route 59.

When it opened in June 1980, the surrounding neighborhoods weren't exactly thrilled. To appease them, the inaugural concert featured a very non-threatening John Denver.

Poplar Creek could accomodate 20,000 people. The covered pavilion had reserved seating for 7,000 audience members, and the grassy slope had room for 13,000 more.

Artist's rendition.
You can see the covered pavilion
with the grassy slope beyond.

Poplar Creek opened on June 6, 1980. There were 100 acts scheduled to appear there the first year. Here are some of them:
John Denver
Barry Manilow
Engelbert Humperdinck
Johnny Mathis
Paul Anka
Tom Jones
Bob Hope~Barbara Eden
Chuck Mangione
Isaac Stern & Boston Symphony Orchestra
Charles Aznavour
Henry Mancini~Sarah Vaughn
New York Philharmonic
The Blues Brothers
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Joe Jackson
The Beach Boys
James Taylor
Lawrence Welk
Jefferson Starship
Sammy Hagar~The Joe Perry Project
Jimmy Buffet & The Coral Reefer Band
Kenny Loggins~Firefall
Carly Simon
Diana Ross
Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Waylon Jennings
The Spinners~Ray, Goodman & Brown
REO Speedwagon
The Cars

In addition to concerts, the original plans called for Poplar Creek to host community theater and ballets. I don't believe this ever came about, but I do recall that some area high schools used the theater to host their graduation ceremonies.

Click here to see an awesome helicopter shot of Poplar Creek on Photobucket!

1988 aerial view

Quotes about Poplar Creek 1980-1981

"The closest thing to a perfect '10' in open-air entertainment sites."

"Poplar Creek clearly represents the state of the art in outdoor entertainment facilities."

"One of the most beautiful facilities I've seen."

"In case I haven't mentioned it before, Poplar Creek is the perfect place to see a performance."

"Poplar Creek is a joy! I'm going back."

"Spanking new arena which is a magnificent addition to the entertainment scene."

"The outdoor concert hall proved it could superbly handle the demands of serious music."
----- "This place is great!"

"From Al Jarreau to Fleetwood Mac, the Nederlander Organization has long provided America's legitimate theatres and music halls with high quality entertainment. Now with the opening of its newest facility, Poplar Creek Music Theatre, Nederlander is gearing up to expand and enhance a tradition of three generations of entertainment excellence."

"Poplar Creek is everything its publicity has said. The people on the back of the lawn could hear every bit as well as the people in the front row."

"The opening of this long anticipated location of music in the northwest suburbs was, by any measure, a grand success."

Here are some of the acts who appeared at Poplar Creek in 1981:
Marshall Tucker Band
The Moody Blues
Blue Oyster Cult~Humble Pie
James Galway~Cleo Laine
Weather Report
Johnny Cash
Victor Borge
Kingston Trio~Limelighters~The Association
Wayne Newton
Mac Davis
Pete Seeger~Arlo Guthrie
Jimmy Buffet & Coral Reefer Band
Dionne Warwick
Linda Ronstadt
Chuck Mangione
Peter, Paul & Mary
Peter Frampton
Willie Nelson
John Denver
Anne Murray
Sha Na Na
Donna Summer
Blizzard of Ozz
Pat Benatar
Dinah Shore
Janis Ian
The Beach Boys
Christopher Cross~America
George Benson
Liza Minnelli~Joel Grey
Doobie Brothers
Allman Brothers
Jefferson Starship

Rumor has it that the all-time attendance record was set in 1988, when Johnny B & The Leisure Suits took the stage. Jonathon Brandmeier was a popular radio personality with a tremendous local following.

Sears acquired the Poplar Creek property in 1989. They kept the theater open despite decreasing attendance. Although concert-goers preferred Poplar Creek, the theater faced competition from the World Music Theater, which opened in Tinley Park in 1990. The World Music Theater would later be known as the Tweeter Center and First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre.

From the moment Sears took over, rumors abounded regarding the eventual demise of Poplar Creek. Ironically, the same communities that were opposed to the theater in 1980 were rallying to save it in the mid 1990s.

Poplar Creek closed after the 1994 season.

1993 aerial view

In October 2006, the area once again became the site of a major concert venue, with the opening of the Sears Centre. Located west of and adjacent to the old Poplar Creek property, this 12,000-seat arena hosts concerts and minor-league sporting events.

This 1998 aerial view shows the property just four years after the
theater closed. While the parking lot and pavilion are gone,
you can still see where they used to be. A frontage road
now cuts through the original stage and seating area.

This 2002 aerial view shows a new 295-room Marriott Hotel where
the original stage and seating area used to be.
You can still see the "footprint" of the grassy slope.

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