Rock fans who buy advance
tickets to the revitalized Lollapalooza, which promoters say will take place
in Grant Park on July 23-24, may be making a sucker's bet.
Promoters Capital Sports &
Entertainment of Austin, Texas, launched a Web site Friday announcing that
two-day passes to the alternative-music festival will go on sale Thursday
for a limited-time discount of $35. They promise 70 bands -- none of whom is
named -- on five stages, plus a "DJ Spin Temple."
"Grant Park will vibrate
and shine as our dance floor, playground and canvas," Lollapalooza.com
boasts. The catch: None of this has been approved by the city, which has
been notoriously hostile to hosting cutting-edge rock music in Grant Park.
In 1998, the Chicago
Park District barred hometown heroes and 1994 Lollapalooza headliners the
Smashing Pumpkins from performing a free concert at the Petrillo Music
Shell. In 2002, it rejected a bid by surviving members of the Grateful Dead
to perform at Hutchinson Field, the site at the southern end of the park
that promoters have chosen for the new Lollapalooza.
City officials said
Lollapalooza has been presented as a "fund-raiser" for the Parkways
Foundation, a private organization devoted to raising money for park
improvements. Parkways did not respond to requests for comment, and Capital
Sports & Entertainment executives would not say how much money the company
has promised to raise for Parkways.
"We're in talks with
both the Parkways Foundation and the Chicago Park District, as well as the
mayor's office," Lollapalooza co-producer Stacey Rodrigues said Thursday.
"We've had great talks so far with all the parties involved. We didn't know
there's been such a history [of problems with rock concerts in Grant Park]."
Rodrigues had promised
an announcement about city approval on Friday; a Capital spokesperson said
that announcement will now come today. But Park District spokeswoman Jessica
Maxey-Faulkner said Friday that Parkways and promoters had not applied for a
The Park District
Commission will not have to vote on the permit, but it must be approved by
the Park Services Department after promoters address a wide range of
concerns about public safety, traffic, cleanup and capacity. "I don't have
any date for when there will be an announcement of city approval,"
Maxey-Faulkner said. "There is still a lot more to be done in the eyes of
the Park District."
"In no way is this a
done deal, and we'll be investigating this carefully," said Bob O'Neill,
president of the watchdog group the Grant Park Conservancy. "The promoter
got ahead of things here by hyping this event, but that's what promoters
Capital has not worked
with Lollapalooza or the city of Chicago before. The company bought a stake
in the festival last year from the Beverly Hills-based William Morris Agency
and concert founder Perry Farrell. Both are working with Capital on the
Billed as a "destination
festival," Lollapalooza hopes to draw fans from across the country, and the
Web site promises to make travel packages available. It also notes that
promoters are seeking corporate sponsors.
Best known as organizers
of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, which draws more than 75,000
people a day in the Texas capital, Capital Sports said it decided to bring
the retooled Lollapalooza to Chicago because the city is in the center of
the country, and Grant Park is a uniquely beautiful site.
"The venue itself really
spoke to us -- it's just a magical setting," Rodrigues said. "Chicago is
also one of the strongest music markets in the country. We're surprised that
it doesn't have a national music festival already."
Concert industry sources
said the acts approached to headline the new Lollapalooza include Green Day,
Weezer, Beck, Widespread Panic and the Pixies, who were offered $275,000 to
perform. It is unclear if any of these bands has confirmed.
The manager of another
major act that performed at Lollapalooza in the past said promoters
approached them six weeks ago and offered $50,000, then upped that figure to
$75,000. "I'm sure they'll come back to me with $100,000, but we'll still
say no, because something about this just doesn't feel right," the manager
Promoters will not
announce the lineup until April 22, two weeks after tickets go on sale. In
1993, Lollapalooza experimented with the Chicago audience by putting tickets
on sale here without naming the talent. The concert sold out, and the test
was cited as evidence that the Lollapalooza name and concept are more
important than specific acts.
audience and the concert industry have changed dramatically since 1993,
however, and despite a strong lineup, last year's Lollapalooza was canceled
weeks before its scheduled start because of poor ticket sales.
If the new Lollapalooza
does win approval from the Park District and city safety officials, it will
face stiff competition in the Chicago concert market on its chosen dates.
The Warped Tour stops at the Tweeter Center in Tinley Park (which hosted
previous Lollapalooza shows) on July 23, and the Dave Matthews Band performs
at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wis. on July 23-24.