The deal to keep Lollapalooza in Chicago for at least the next decade includes a complete overhaul of how the festival’s producers will pay the Park District, tighter restrictions keeping competing music festivals out of Grant Park, and no provision for investment in the land, except a $100,000 tennis court. court renovation.
Although Mayor Lori Lightfoot took the stage during this year’s festival to announce to enthusiastic fans that the signature music would remain in Chicago, her office and the Park District had not shared full details of the agreement with C3 Presents, which organizes the Lollapalooza, nor confirmed if a contract had been signed.
In its response to a Tribune Freedom of Information request, the district said Monday that the contract “is currently in draft status” and provided a three-page “term summary of the agreement” signed by Parks Executive Director Rosa. Escareño, and the manager of C3, Charlie Walker, on July 30, the penultimate day of the 2022 festival.
Among the most significant changes with respect to the previous contract, as the Tribune reported last monthIs that the new agreement will allow 60,000 more attendees throughout the four days of the festival. The new limit will be 115,000 daily festival attendees, compared to 100,000 in the previous agreement.
The new deal also appears to further limit the holding of competing music festivals in Grant Park for the next decade.
“CPD and C3 will collaborate as necessary to avoid similar activities (multi-day music festivals) characterized by the type of entertainment, number of days, and number of stages in Grant Park. In no event will CPD, without the written consent of C3, allow a music festival in Grant Park to allow more than 20,000 daily attendees or to last more than two days,” the agreement reads. That seems to mean another C3-run festival, the two-day Sueños Music Festival, could go ahead.
The previous agreement did not mention the size or duration of the competing festivals. It barred the Park District from holding another multi-day, multi-stage music festival “that is the same or substantially similar” to Lollapalooza, without consulting C3. City-sponsored events like Taste of Chicago, Jazz Fest and Gospel Fest were exempt. Future exempt city events will be updated in the “terminated contract,” according to the agreement.
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Another unresolved “emphasis item” for the long-form contract includes a fee-for-service agreement. It’s unclear if this is a reference to guarantees festival organizers wanted that the city would not raise its attractions tax during the next deal period.
Festival wear and tear on the grounds has long been a frustration for park advocates. The deal summary makes no mention of C3 providing long-term drainage or infrastructure improvements; the only notable improvement is the $100,000 renovation of the tennis courts where festival vehicles park.
The agreement makes major changes to how the Park District will collect its share of festival revenue. Under the 2012 contract, the city took a percentage of net admission revenue, rising from 11% in 2012 to 15% in 2021. In addition, the city received a 5% cut from sponsorship revenue above $3, 25 million and income from food and beverages. in excess of $3 million. Under that formula, C3 paid the Park District $7.8 million for last year’s festival.
The new agreement stipulates that C3 will pay the Park District a portion of the festival’s total revenue, including tickets, food and beverage, merchandise, third-party licenses, sponsorships and broadcast. Whatever share C3 pays would be based on a number of supports:
- 5% of the first $30 million in total festival revenue
- 10% of total festival revenue above $30 million and up to $50 million
- 20% above $50 million and up to $70 million
- 15% above $70 million and up to $80 million
- 10% above $80 million and up to $85 million
- 5% above $85 million
Those supports would increase by $1 million per year. As with the last contract, C3 will guarantee payments of at least $2 million if the full four-day festival is held or $1.5 million for three days. If the in-person festival is canceled, as it was in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city will receive $750,000.
The Park District has argued that it does not need its board’s approval for the contract to go ahead. The next board meets on Wednesday.
The next Lollapalooza is scheduled for August 3-6, 2023.