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Pumpkins to Play Huge Hometown Charity Show

Concert will be band's only Chicago appearance during upcoming tour.

Senior Writer Gil Kaufman reports:

The Smashing Pumpkins will live their dream of giving something back to their hometown fans when they play a charity show at Chicago's Soldier Field on July 7. The band will donate 100 percent of net proceeds from the show at the 55,000-capacity home of football's Chicago Bears to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northern Illinois, according to the group's managers.

"We're thrilled that this situation has worked out," said Pumpkins' leader Billy Corgan in a prepared statement. " Although we can't play a free concert like we had hoped, we're excited to be able to play a charity show and support a local Chicago charity."

The show, which will be opened by the group's heroes and Illinois neighbors Cheap Trick, will be the band's only appearance in Chicago during their brief upcoming U.S. tour, the dates and venues of which have not yet been released.

The Pumpkins had originally hoped to celebrate their 10th anniversary as a band with a massive, free party for their hometown Chicago fans at the Petrillo Band Shell in Grant Park near the city's waterfront. City officials, however, denied the band's offer last month, citing fears of an overflow crowd estimated at between 100,000-600,000 mobbing the 60,000-capacity space.

At the time, the band's co-manager, Cliff Burnstein, said of the rebuff, "This was a way to give back. In their hometown. It sucks big time."

Pumpkins publicist Gayle Fine added that the group's members handpicked the charity, which works to fulfill the wishes of children between the ages of 2 and 18 suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

Corgan had told the Chicago Tribune last month that the denial from the city to do the free concert was "one of the biggest heartbreaks I've ever had in my life."

Tickets, priced at $30, will go on sale June 13. There is an eight-ticket limit per person.

A representative for the Make-A-Wish Foundation said the charity group is overjoyed at the generous offer from the band. "We are totally excited and elated to be in this partnership with them," said Linda Parck, director of corporate and community relations for the foundation. "I couldn't believe it when I heard, I had to sit down." Parck said she was unclear as to why the group had chosen the Make-A-Wish organization but that she was aware of them working with the charity in the past.

"I think they did some research and came up with us, probably because we have such a heavy presence in the Chicagoland area," Parck said. "We had a child years ago who wanted to meet a band and had the Pumpkins as their backup and when they met the Pumpkins said, 'those other guys are so much nicer than the band I wanted to meet,' " in reference to the Chicago trio, who just released their new album, entitled Adore.

The massive charity show at the 55,000-plus capacity football stadium is the first of its kind at the venue, according to Joanne Kelleher, an administrative assistant at Soldier Field.

The Pumpkins are scheduled to play to more than 100,000 fans at the free Hennepin Avenue Block Party on July 17 in Minneapolis. In early May, Corgan had called that event's sponsor, Rock 100.3-FM, and complained that several cities had denied the band's requests to stage free shows. The group will wrap a one-month European promotional tour on June 9, during which it played a number of unusual venues, including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa, Spain, and the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark.