Lollapalooza’s Lance connection

Disgraced Armstrong built the company behind Walmart on the Lake

January 18, 2013

With Lance Armstrong in the news so much these days, confessing to doping during his days as a cyclist and lying through his teeth about it for years, his connection to the Texas company that brings us Lollapalooza is worth noting.

Throughout his career, Armstrong has been managed by Austin-based Capital Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of concert promoters C3 Presents. More than any other client, he was the star who helped longtime friend Bill Stapleton establish the firm. From Stapleton’s official bio:

“Bill founded CSE in 1998 and has represented Lance Armstrong in all commercial matters since 1995. Beyond Armstrong, CSE has launched successful enterprises such as the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Lollapalooza, the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, C3 Presents, and C3 Management. C3 Presents now manages the ACL Festival and Lollapalooza with Bill and CSE remaining as founding partners in that business.”

In fact, in the early days of C3 launching Lollapalooza as a reinvented “destination festival” on Chicago’s lakefront, company executives frequently flew local and national movers and shakers whom they were trying to impress to Europe to watch Lance pedal his way over hill and dale. And, of course, they always wore and distributed those ubiquitous yellow wristbands.

As The New York Times noted in a long and fascinating examination of Lance, Inc., “Armstrong’s business brand” always has been “bound tight with his charity.” Yet as with C3’s and its “contributions” to Chicago’s parks, the Livestrong charity never has been 100-percent altruistic.

“Mr. Stapleton’s company, Capital Sports & Entertainment, of which Mr. Armstrong was the key client and a minority shareholder, earned fees from the foundation, beginning in 2010, based on the partnerships it generated,” according to the Times. “In three years, those fees amounted to $423,000.”

Despite the bad press for its biggest client, CSE and C3 remain masters of public relations and political networking. As reported by The Austin Business Journal, next week, they will stage President Obama’s second inauguration in Washington, D.C., expanding on the role they played during his first swearing-in, as well as in staging the election-night festivities in Grant Park in 2008.

But not everything the company touches turns to gold. C3 apparently has been thwarted in its plans to expand with Lollapalooza Israel. The concert was to have been held in Tel Aviv’s HaYarkon Park, which is built on the site of a Palestinian village that the Israeli army cleared and destroyed.

All information about that concert recently was removed from the Lollapalooza Website. Quoting from Israle’s Ynet and translating from the Hebrew, the activist blog ElectronicIntifade.net reported that, “Many difficulties cropped up over the last few months in recruiting the famous artists to take part in the festival, and the production had also run into logistical and financial difficulties in its attempt to produce three consecutive days of performances.”

Palestinian activists long have called for artists to boycott Israel to protest the occupation in a move similar to the boycott of Sun City and other concert venues in South Africa as a statement against Apartheid in the mid-’80s.

Oblivious to the protests—or perhaps seeking to make a counter-statement—Lollapalooza figurehead Perry Farrell was a driving force in seeking to bring the concert to Israel. It already has expanded from Chicago to Brazil and Chile, and C3 continues to eye a possible future for the festival in Europe. Just don’t expect a tie-in to the Tour de France.