Lollapalooza stays with Chicago as Lightfoot takes the stage on Sunday to announce 10-year deal

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a new contract on Sunday to keep Lollapalooza in Grant Park for another 10 years.

Lightfoot said the festival will continue to take place in Chicago until 2032, unveiling the news ahead of J-Hope’s headlining act on the Bud Light Seltzer stage Sunday night.

“People said to me, ‘Mayor, we love Lolla. It’s best to go.’ I agree, and so I’m here to tell you by decree that we’ll make sure Lolla continues into the future,” Lightfoot said as the four-day event came to an end.

The contract is valid for the 2023 festival and festival organizer C3 Presents and the Chicago Park District have the option to extend the contract for another five years under the same terms. It was unclear on Sunday whether the agreement will come before the Park District board of directors.

Full contract details were not available on Sunday, including listing the city’s entertainment tax, a final sticking point in the negotiations. Last week, C3 Presents executives urged the city for assurances that Chicago’s entertainment tax would not increase under a new agreement.

The rate increased from 5% to 9% for large-scale events over the course of the existing 10-year Lollapalooza contract.

ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, and Ald. Sophia King, 4th, the two councilors whose wards include Grant Park, were not immediately available for comment Sunday. Friends of the Park, one of the most active parks advocacy groups in the city, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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“There are now a total of eight Lollapaloozas on four continents, but Chicago remains the center of the Lollapalooza universe,” Charlie Walker, a partner at C3 Presents, said in a press release. “With the world’s best artists, amazing fans, and our incredible partners in the city of Chicago, we’re excited to continue to deliver an unparalleled festival experience at Grant Park for the next decade.”

During that time, the Park District will receive between 5% and 20% of the festival’s revenue, based on total revenue from entry, goods and services at the party, license sales, sponsorships and streaming deals. As with the existing contract, C3 guarantees payments of at least $2 million if the entire four-day festival takes place; $1.5 million for three days; and $750,000 if the festival doesn’t go ahead.

The deal also set a visitor limit of 115,000 — an increase from 100,000 — and formalized the organizer’s $2.2 million commitment to Chicago Public Schools for arts education. C3 will also be putting in money to renovate Grant Park’s tennis courts, though the company doesn’t appear to be investing in improving Grant Park’s infrastructure, as at least one councilor hoped.

The festival will take place on the last weekend of July or the first weekend of August.

“Lollapalooza is not only a major economic engine for our city, but also a truly iconic Chicago summer festival,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “I am delighted to come to this agreement that will ensure that Lollapalooza will remain here for the next decade – bringing music, culture and joy to residents and tourists alike for years to come.”

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Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell, the festival’s co-founder and co-producer, said in an interview on Thursday that another decade-long deal had been struck. At the time, C3 representatives resisted the claim, saying negotiations were still ongoing.

The current deal between the park district and C3 Presents was signed in 2012 and expired after last year’s festival. The parties opted for a one-year extension, and festival officials have since made more permanent investments in the city suggesting they stay here: Texas-based C3 recently celebrated the CPS initiative, announced last year; hosted an inaugural Lollapalooza job fair this spring and expanded its partnership with the nonprofit After School Matters.

Fresh off an announcement that Chicago would turn the streets around Grant Park into a NASCAR racetrack for a televised Cup Series event in 2023 and beyond, Lightfoot’s Lollapalooza announcement could bolster the mayor’s reelection case restoring downtown Chicago. . It would also soften the blow of the Chicago Bears’ potential loss to Arlington Heights.

Afternoon briefing

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Lollapalooza found its home in Grant Park in 2005 and would generate millions of local economic impact and annual revenue for the Park District. The existing contract was celebrated as a victory for Chicago’s taxpayers, hotels, restaurants, cultural communities and parks.

Under the current contract, festival organizers are on the hook for sales, liquor, leasehold and entertainment taxes. The festival began paying the entertainment fees after the Chicago Inspector General’s office noted that while other festivals had to pay, Lollapalooza was exempt. Back then, in 2011, the festival transferred 10.25% of its profits to a foundation that raised private funds for the Chicago Park District.

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel increased the entertainment tax for major performances from 5% to 9% as part of his 2018 budget. The festival also began paying Cook County’s 1.5% entertainment tax after the County Board closed a loophole that allowed them to pay in 2012. were exempted. A source close to the festival organizers warned that any additional tax increases would be passed on to ticket buyers.

Lollapalooza negotiations have historically taken place behind closed doors. In the days leading up to this year’s festival, councilors whose parks comprise the park have said they had been kept out of the ongoing discussions. So is Friends of the Parks. The one-year extension inked in 2021 happened behind closed doors, without any public discussion or vote. This was also the case with the decision to extend the festival from three to four days from 2016 onwards.

Since Lollapalooza returned in 2021, after COVID-19 caused the in-person festival to be canceled in 2020, C3 and the city have been less transparent than in previous years about police activity and hospitalizations involving fans. In recent years, organizers published daily the number of arrests, subpoenas and hospital transports. This year, as was the case in 2021, a C3 official said they will share the total numbers after the event ends, following the example of the city’s emergency management and communications office.

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