Lollapalooza agreement, NASCAR street racing event cause concern about overwhelming downtown

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ByCraig Wall via WLS logo
Monday, August 1, 2022
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A new deal keeps Lollapalooza in Grant Park for the next 10 years, but combined with next summer's NASCAR race, is it too much for downtown?

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot has continued to tout the benefits of a new deal to keep Lollapalooza in Grant Park for the next 10 years, but combined with next summer's NASCAR race, is it too much for downtown?

As crews cleaned up Grant Park after Lollapalooza 2022, the music festival is now under contract for at least the next 10 years, with a better deal for the city as well as guaranteed stability for Lolla's organizers.

"The contract is structured for us to share the wealth," Lightfoot said. "So in other words, we've got a base, but as things get better, hopefully they will, meaning as the revenues improve year over year, we get to share in that."

But next year visitors to downtown Chicago will not only have to contend with Lollapalooza closures; NASCAR will also be taking over Grant Park, shutting down streets and parts of the park for 10 to 12 days for setup and tear down for their first street racing event.

The combination has raised concerns with some aldermen, especially about shutdowns along DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

"So you've always got to play chess, not checkers, you've got to look at the bigger picture," Lightfoot said in response. "And yes, there is inconvenience. But on all of these programs, we got to think about what are the investments that we're making? What is the return on the investment to the local economy and our residents?"

The mayor noted the estimated economic impact of Lollapalooza in 2021 was $305 million. She said some local hotels this past weekend reported better numbers than before the pandemic.

The mayor said the city will work with organizers from NASCAR as it does with Lollapalooza to minimize the inconvenience for drivers and tourists, but she said the benefits to the city far outweigh the downsides.