Jul 29, 2022 - Business

Lollapalooza is back at Grant Park … for now

Photo of crowd watching concert with tall buildings in background.

Crammed-in festival-goers cheer during Lollapalooza last year. Photo: Vashon Jordan Jr./Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Lollapalooza kicked off last night in Grant Park with headliner Metallica.

Why it matters: The annual downtown festival attracts more than 350,000 music lovers and their tourism dollars, but this is the final year of Lolla's contract with the Park District.

Context: Organizer C3 Presents signed a 10-year contract extension in 2012.

  • This year, the Park District quietly extended the contract with no say from alderpeople or the public. It's not clear if the Park District board approved the extension.
  • City stakeholders recognize the economic impact of the festival, but they also field annual complaints about noise, trash and traffic.

By the numbers: Despite the concerns, Lolla has proven to be an economic engine that brings tourism dollars back to a pandemic-stricken downtown.

  • The festival had a $305 million economic impact on the city last year, according to a study.
  • Since 2012, Lolla organizers have paid an assortment of city taxes, thanks in part to investigations of their previous tax-exempt status.
  • And C3 Presents has donated $2.2 million to local arts education programs.

What they're saying: "Lollapalooza is one of the biggest events of the year for the Loop, attracting over 100,000 people per day into the central business district and creating a palpable energy of music, entertainment and millions of dollars in economic impact," Kiana DiStasi, CMO of Chicago Loop Alliance, tells Axios.

The other side: The private festival takes place in a public park. So the community has a vested interest in how it operates.

  • "Why do we keep renting out our public lands for private profit?" writes Axios reader and activist Thom Clark.
  • "Do taxpayers or users of anything downtown really see the money that the promoters claim?"

What's next: All indications point to C3 and the city negotiating another long-term contract to keep Lollapalooza in Grant Park. But it remains unclear if the public will have a say in the decision.


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