Lollapalooza, the gift that keeps giving—to Daley | WBEZ
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Jim DeRogatis

Lollapalooza, the gift that keeps giving—to Daley

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Kudos to Dan Mihalopoulos for a tasty scoop in The Sun-Times yesterday about the ongoing coziness between Lollapalooza promoters and co-owners C3 Presents and former Mayor Richard M. Daley, whose nephew Mark Vanecko was the paid lobbyist who negotiated the sweetheart deal between the city and the festival.

As reported extensively in this blog, that original tax-free pact, which lasted for seven years, saved the festival millions of dollars at the expense of taxpayers, treating it as if it was a not-for-profit event even though the musical Walmart on the Lake was raking in the cash. It’s hard not to see C3’s continuing love for Daley as a sort of payback.

Writes Mihalopoulos:

The Austin, Texas-based C3 is paying for TUR Partners – the company Daley formed with his son, Patrick, after he became a private citizen – to come up with a plan for how Austin might make better use of a cherished downtown park…

Entirely at C3's expense, Daley’s TUR firm has worked with the Austin Parks Foundation to devise a plan for the 74-acre Tower Lake Metropolitan Park, on the shores of Lady Bird Lake.

TUR’s final study will be presented to Austin's City Council next month, but TUR already has told Austin leaders that they could build underground parking and pedestrian bridges over roads, for a total cost estimated at more than $100 million.

The plan is drawing criticism that it favors money-making ventures over green space. C3 promotes festivals in Austin, too, including an event in the park that's the subject of the Daley company's study.

In retrospect, Daley’s reputation as Chicago’s “green mayor” is ironic: By turning Grant Park over to Lollapalooza for six to eight weeks (or more) of prime summer time, he set a precedent for the city privatizing public lands in the pursuit of income from big, corporate, for-profit events—something that continues with festivals such as Pitchfork and North Coast in Union Park and Riot Fest in Humboldt Park, shutting neighbors out of these spaces for weeks at a time.

It’s also very much worth noting that the close relations between the mayor’s office and Lollapalooza didn’t end with Daley. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s brother Ari runs William Morris Endeavor, the Hollywood talent agency which owns the other 50 percent of Lollapalooza along with C3, and the fest continues to get pretty much whatever it wants from the city, even if it must now pay its rightful entertainment taxes. It was the Emanuel administration that approved a revised contract that secures Grant Park for Lollapalooza essentially in perpetuity (the end date can be extended indefinitely).

Ari Emanuel also sits on the board of directors of giant national concert promoters Live Nation, which has its own sweetheart deal for a giant concert facility on another piece of public land, Northerly Island. All of which is to say that not much has changed between Daley and Rahm, at least as far as auctioning off the parks goes.

Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast Sound Opinions and Jim + Carmel’s TV + Dinner.

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