Chicago mayor touts Lollapalooza’s new contract; rare details

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday that the new 10-year Lollapalooza contract is better for the city than the existing decade-long deal, although many details of the deal have not been made public. .

“Obviously we know a lot more about the economics and, frankly, the logistics involved, so we took that learning and incorporated it into this contract,” Lightfoot told an independent press conference. Monday as she compared the new contract to the deal. inked in 2012.

“The contract is structured so that we share the wealth, so in other words we have a basis, but as things improve and hopefully they will, ie that revenue is getting better year by year, we can share in the one with Lolla, so we’re really partners together, and I think having that stability, so frankly, they can book their artists years in advance is really to the advantage not only for them, but also for us.

Lightfoot also called festival organizer C3 Presents “phenomenal partners,” pointing to the company’s work funding arts programming in Chicago public schools and collaborating with local nonprofit After School Matters.

This year’s edition of Lollapalooza ended on Sunday. On Monday, the city could not immediately say the number of arrests made, citations issued and spectators sent to local hospitals during the four-day event.

During the 2021 festival, 19 arrests, seven citations and 102 medical transports were recorded. Before the pandemic, city officials provided this information on a daily basis. Now they are waiting for the end of the festival to share these figures.

Around 100,000 people attend Lollapalooza during each of its four days.

Lightfoot announced a new contract on Sunday to keep Lollapalooza at Grant Park until at least 2032. According to Lightfoot’s office, C3 Presents and the Chicago Park District have the option to extend the contract for an additional five years. The existing contract includes a one-year renewal clause.

The new contract also increases the daily attendance cap to 115,000 festival-goers, up from 100,000 previously. There does not appear to be any major investment in park infrastructure by C3 in the new contract beyond the renovation of the tennis courts, where organizers park their vehicles during the event.

The Park District is guaranteed to receive $2 million from C3 each year during the four-day festival, but C3 has paid far more than that over the years in fees. The city said C3 cut a check for $7.8 million for the festival last year.

Jerry Mickelson, co-founder of Jam Productions and one of the doyens of the Chicago music scene, told the Tribune on Friday that he supported a contract extension for Lollapalooza, in part because C3 Presents shared the wealth with d other rooms, between aftershows and exhibitions of the artists he represents. More than 60 Lollapalooza aftershows were scheduled at nearly two dozen Chicago venues over the weekend.

“They have created an event that is a fixture and an important part of the economic vitality of our city, so I am in favor of this contract being renegotiated and extended because it is a positive benefit for everything the city is trying to do. do,” Mickelson said. “The people at C3 provide a lot of venues with aftershows. … They don’t have to be commissioned to do it. They do it voluntarily because they know it’s good. for the city and the clubs.

Mickelson, who claims credit for bringing Lollapalooza to Grant Park after convincing city leaders to host Radiohead there in 2001, was also not opposed to negotiations taking place behind closed doors.

“You’ll never get a deal if you have public opinion. That’s not how the process works in any other city and it wouldn’t work in Chicago,” he said. City officials have done “an excellent job of protecting the interests of the city. You have pros at the table. You can’t make it an open forum. It’s really hard to make a deal. It might scare people.

Parks advocates, however, say they would have appreciated the opportunity for more comment.

Leslie Recht, chair of the Grant Park Advisory Council, says it’s possible to balance large events with the needs of the more than 100,000 people who live nearby.

“The secrecy ‘around contract negotiations and the exclusion of local aldermen from them’ is unfortunate, because I think a lot of these things that we’re asking about wouldn’t necessarily cancel Lolla or these other events, but they would be a benefit to people who live downtown,” she said.

Among the advisory board’s demands: clear noise level limits and an obligation for all event organizers to pay for longer-term damage to the park.

“What we requested was that various entities, Lolla and Sueños (a May C3 Latin Music Festival was also involved), set aside money for major repairs and improvements to Grant Park,” including going beyond repairing tennis courts, but another pledge not to park on them and money to fix sidewalks and bridges. “We think that’s reasonable because the more you use the park, the more you drain it.”

Beyond that, she says neighbors should have access to green space at major events and festival organizers should provide more health tents and bathrooms so attendees don’t use the lanes as toilets.

Juanita Irizarry, executive director of the advocacy group Friends of the Parks, said Monday that she had not seen the contract, nor had she been involved in the negotiations or approached by city officials. or park district for group pickup.

“It’s not surprising given the way this administration works that we weren’t contacted,” she said. “Transparency and genuine engagement with the public are not their forte.”

She expressed disappointment that the district prioritized ‘income generation’ over the concerns of local residents, who called for better post-concert cleaning, noise monitoring and better access to Grant Park.

“We’ve been hearing more and more residents say lately, ‘My God, the park is blocked more often than not,'” Irizarry said.

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“It seems like Lollapalooza should be responsible for the capital investments for the things that are impacted by their presence, whether it’s the sidewalks and courts they park on and damage, if not immediately in the long term by using them in a way that was not intended, as well as fields, grassy areas that would really need to be redone to accommodate that kind of long-term use,” she added.

Irizarry expects his group to push harder for the city to set up permanent festival grounds, as Milwaukee has done. The city’s 75-acre Henry Maier Festival Park is a former downtown airstrip along Lake Michigan. It hosts the city’s ethnic and cultural festivals, racing events, and the annual multi-weekend Summerfest. These festival grounds are built to withstand heavy traffic and the weight of the stages, and they have permanent bathrooms and an electrical load to handle the electricity demands of festivals. According to Irizarry, having a dedicated festival ground would ensure downtown residents have access to much-needed green spaces.

The extension of the Lollapalooza deal and the recent announcement that NASCAR will host an event at Grant Park next summer underscores “how the city and the park district see Grant Park as green space for sale and are ready to shut everything down. with very little discussion,” she says.

Under the existing contract, C3 is responsible for cleaning up Grant Park after Lollapalooza. Once the steps and equipment are removed this week, park district officials will drive around the park to calculate this year’s tab. The bill often runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, even though this year’s festival enjoyed inclement weather.

Next year’s Lollapalooza is scheduled for August 3-6. The event has been a mainstay of Grant Park since 2005.

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