Lolla mess expected to cost promoter big bucks

August 9, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The massive crowds and rain during the three-day music festival combined to tear up the fields in Grant Park. The field will be repaired at no cost to taxpayers.

Bob O'Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy, says this year the mess is probably one of the worst he has seen.

"Yes, you will see this after Lollapalooza, but you will see every year a better park at no cost to taxpayers," O'Neill.

Chicago has hosted Lollapalooza, one of the largest music festivals in the United States, for the past seven years. According to the park district, the event pumped $85 million extra dollars into the economy last year. This year the figure is expected to be about the same.

The cleanup and repair will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and will be paid for by the event promoter.

"There is still a lot in the park from Lolla and until all of that is gone, we won't know the full scope of work that needs to go on to repair it," said Adam Schwerner, Chicago Park District.

Over 300,000 people attended the festival this year. The heavy rains and thunderstorms on Sunday turned the fields to mud, making it difficult to stand and walk. Some concert-goers rolled and danced in the mud. The turf damage is substantial.

"If it is nice and sunny...and doesn't rain a good deal, we can get out here and do the work. If it rains a lot in the next couple of weeks, that's going to hamper our efforts," said Schwerner.

Lollapalooza organizers and the park district are currently assessing the damage. They are confident Grant Park will be ready for other events such as the upcoming Jazz Fest on Labor Day weekend.

The park district says attendees fill hotel rooms, restaurants, music venues and other attractions, making it a great event for the city.

"This is a cultural event unmatched throughout the nation. And this, I think, is number three music festival or number two music festival in the United States. It has helped put Chicago on the map," said Shwerner.

The park district says they will temporarily find for softball teams that play in Grant Park. They say it is too early to tell how much the cleanup will cost but expect it will be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Park district officials stress that Lollapalooza is committed to an ongoing restoration of Grant Park throughout the year including a number landscaping projects and 300 trees being planted along the lakefront.

Last year, restoration came with a price tag of more than $200,000.

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