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Austin Charges ACL $53,000. Chicago Has Lollapalooza Pay 28 Times That

Mary Kang, KUT
Festival-goers at this year's Austin City Limits Music Festival.

The Austin City Limits Music Festival isn’t the only production put on by parent company C3 Presents. In addition to booking and promoting Austin concerts throughout the year, C3 also puts on Chicago’s annual Lollapalooza music festival.

Like ACL, Lollapalooza is hosted on public parkland, requiring a contract with the city. So how do the contracts compare? KUT scoured C3’s deals with Austin and Chicago to find out.

Rental Costs:

That includes set-up, take-down, city fees and – let’s not forget – the two weekends of the festival. Itemized, it only costs $30 for an alcohol permit, and another $30 for a sound permit.
That $53,000 doesn’t include post event clean-up. Austin also gets $1 per ticket per day, or $3 per each three-day pass sold. (See more below.)

That's 28 times Austin's base rental fee. Chicago also gets a cut of each year’s ticket sales. Last year, the city got 12 percent of net admission revenue. That percentage will increase every year until it reaches 15 percent. C3 also pays for other expenses and fees, including amusement taxes.

Park Conditions:

  • Austin has an agreement vesting the Parks Department director (Sarah Hensley) with the power to determine whether damage has been done and how much repairs would cost.

However C3 has a 10-day window to appeal the department’s decision to the city manager (Marc Ott), whose decision is final.
Additionally, C3 has donated over $7.4 million to the Austin Parks Foundation since 2006. The Parks Department’s Victor Ovalle says the contributions are “based on a percentage of ticket revenue.” C3 also recently contributed $3.5 million for Auditorium Shores renovations.

  • Under Chicago’s Lollapalooza contract, a third-party inspects landscape conditions at Grant Park before and after the fest.

When that third party makes its determinations, C3 immediately pays the city an amount equal to the repair cost.

More Contract Details:

Compared to its Austin contract, C3’s 32-page contract with Chicago is especially robust and detail oriented. The Chicago contract covers almost all bases: labor issues, anti-discrimination clauses, preference for minority and women-owned businesses and more. 

The 20-page Austin contract emphasizes different aspects. It reiterates that ACL be an environmentally-friendly music festival: no Styrofoam or plastic bags. The contract also looks out for the park’s year-round residents, calling on C3 to offer grants to the Barton Springs snack stand and the Zilker Zephyr to offset the fest’s impact.

Both contracts are extremely community and safety oriented. C3 must provide bike racks, access to transportation, work to keep neighborhoods safe and traffic free, post access signs. And both have a no smoking policy. The Austin contract, however, lacks Chicago’s “no illegal drug use” clause.

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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