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Lollapalooza took Grant Park by storm, left it wrecked

North Grant Park after LollapaloozMonday August 8 2011. | Jean Lachat~Sun-Times

North Grant Park after Lollapalooza, Monday, August 8, 2011. | Jean Lachat~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 9, 2011 12:57PM

The desecrated Grant Park looks like a rock ‘n’ roll battlefield — the fields are muddy and bare, waste is strewn about and a stench of stagnant water and stale beer lingers in the air.

With Sunday thunderstorms flooding the last day of Lollapalooza, it will be weeks — and tens of thousands of dollars — before the aftermath of the festival is repaired, officials said.

“This is probably one of the worst [aftermaths],” said Bob O’Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy. “The turf damage is substantial, bushes were trampled ... there’s a little bit of damage to some gardens.”

Last year, the restoration process cost more than $200,000. This year, repairing Hutchinson Field alone, where the Foo Fighters played Sunday night, could cost up to $80,000, O’Neill said.

The good news is, Chicago doesn’t have to pay a dime.

The contract with Austin Texas-based C3 Presents LLC requires the event promoter to pay for any damage resulting from the festival, although the permit process does involve an extensive insurance policy and damage deposit, said Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, a Chicago Park District spokeswoman.

Chicago Park District officials won’t have estimates on restoration costs until later in the week, but “the rain roughed [the park] up,” Maxey-Faulkner said.

The Lollapalooza organizers said they are currently assessing the damage.

“Our priority is ensuring the park returns to the state it was in before the festival as quickly as possible,” C3 Presents spokeswoman Shelby Meade said in an e-mail. “At this time, we do not have specifics on the assessment and repair schedule.”

C3 is usually more than happy to cover the repair costs and beyond, O’Neill said.

“Lollapalooza is committed to an ongoing restoration of Grant Park,” he said. “Not just after the festival, but throughout the year.”

Part of that commitment includes funding several landscaping projects, including the addition of 300 trees along the lakefront currently being planted, O’Neill said. Without the funds from the festival, “We wouldn’t have the landscaping we have,” he added.

“They want to be well-received in Chicago, and they know it’s in their best interest, too,” O’Neill said. “They have more of a green agenda, but they also believe in giving back to the park.”

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