A post-Lolla breakdown
Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012
Updated: Saturday, September 1, 2012 12:09
When Lollapalooza rolls into town, I envision a rip-roaring, monster-truck bandwagon trampling daisies and overriding the sounds of bluebirds for hellish, blown-out rock ‘n roll. Though this mental image is somewhat believable, the concert promoters for Lollapalooza, C3 Presents, have actually taken big steps to try and protect Grant Park’s daisies and bluebirds for the past seven years. With a new city, county and state tax levied on the major festival, Grant Park and the Chicago Park District will be in better care while also keeping Lollapalooza in Grant Park until at least 2021.
This year 270,000 people attended the festival over three days in Grant Park. 20 percent of those people reside in the city itself and 26 percent are from elsewhere in the state. The remaining 54 percent are from out of state and 11 percent of those are from out of the country. Needless to say, Lollapalooza did wonders for the local economy, bringing in $100 million this year. The real wonder is what the abrupt and short-lived mass of transient fest- and park-goers can do to the overall landscape and condition of Chicago’s front yard.
After unwelcome rainstorms and inevitable mud pits at this year’s fest, Grant Park’s two major fields, Butler and Hutchinson, were left in almost post-apocalyptic conditions. The total cost of the cleanup for this year is going to cost C3 about $300,000, including turf damage, according to Grant Park Conservancy President Bob O’Neill. Since the festival’s closing, the north field had already been aerated and restored. Hutchinson Field, to the south, was still in its post-festival state, but O’Neill has faith in C3 and its efforts to work with the park district.
O’Neil defined Lollapalooza as “most responsible” and “one of the best models” for large-scale music festivals when working with the Chicago Park District. Lollapalooza’s previous efforts included its partnership with the philanthropic (though now defunct) Parkways Foundation, which had gained them questionable tax exempt status on amusement and liquor taxes by the city, county and state for the past seven years, while providing 45 percent of Parkways’ annual revenue. This year the festival was heavily levied with taxes, securing at least 11 percent of total ticket sales to the park district with that number projected to go up to 15 percent by 2021. Although O’Neil would rather see the money go directly to the parks via the Parkways Foundation, he sees each year as exponentially greater than the last for the park district and their benefiting from Lollapalooza, despite its terrestrial havoc.
The new contract between C3 Presents LLC and the Chicago Park District can be found online at Scribd.
Who should ultimately be responsible for the Lolla cleanup? Tweet your two cents with @RUTORCH on Twitter.