Leaving only the matter of the music to the experts — music critics and fans — we’d have to say this year’s edition of Lollapalooza was exactly the sort of thing every Chicagoan should love.
But should it be doubled in size next year, as already is being discussed? Hard to say. There’s that old rule about not fixing what’s not broke.
Chicago’s national and international reputation need a facelift, what with all the bad news about violent crime and a declining bond rating. Lollapalooza drew 100,000 music fans a day for three days, from all over the nation and at least 20 countries, almost all of whom seemed to go home smiling with sun-drenched stories to tell. That’s good branding.
And Chicago needs money. Lollapalooza is expected to pay the city some $4 million in rent and entertainment taxes, and the fest brought a boost in business to restaurants, hotels and other tourist attractions.
That said, the real payoff for the city won’t be clear until the final numbers are run on police protection, Grant Park repairs and cleanup — for which the concert promoters also will be presented a bill — traffic control and the like. Those kinds of municipal costs tend to be underestimated.
The promoters of Lollapalooza, C3 Presents, also run the Austin City Limits Festival in Texas, which this year was expanded to two consecutive three-day weekends. It would seem only logical, given that Lollapalooza sold out this year and can grow only by tacking on more days, to expand Lollapalooza by a second weekend, too.
Then again, Chicagoans remember what a treat Taste of Chicago was for years before it grew too big and soggy and expensive, finally forcing the city to downsize it.
The promoters’ contract with the city for Lollapalooza runs through 2022 — plenty of time to grow this thing carefully while keeping the good branding and money coming.