LOLLAPALOOZA 2006 SPREADS OUT, BEEFS UP, TRIPLES ATTENDANCE

LOLLAPALOOZA 2006 SPREADS OUT, BEEFS UP,
TRIPLES ATTENDANCE
Author: Gil Kaufman
Date: August 9, 2006

What a difference a year makes. When
Lollapalooza relaunched as a destination festival in 2005 on the
Chicago lakefront, the hastily arranged two-day line-up was
criticized for a lack of diversity and the lay-out of the fest
suffered from serious sound bleed between the closely-clustered
four main stages.

Fast forward to August 4 to 6, when the revamped
Lollapalooza spread its wings across three-quarters of a mile of
prime Chicago lakefront real-estate, hosting 130 bands on nine
stages over three days. Attendance nearly tripled to 180,000,
according to organizers, and while the problem of sound bleed was
not totally alleviated, it was certainly less prominent than in
2005. Organizers also got a break from the brutal 100+ degree
temperatures of last summer with 90 degree days that made for less
worry about heat-related illness and alleviated the need for last
year?s fleet of city buses/mobile cooling centers.

?Really, nothing major went wrong this year,?
said Stacey Rodrigues, a producer for the event?s co-promoter,
Austin-based Capital Sports Entertainment. (The event is
co-promoted by CSE and Charles Attal Presents). Attendance averaged
60,000 per day, with Sunday topping out at 63,000. Capacity for the
event was 65,000, with organizers expecting around 55,000 per day,
Rodrigues said. Tickets were $65 per day, or $150 for the entire
three-day festival.

?There were lots of small things that we are
going to change, but the stage layout definitely was improved this
year because we were able to spread them out more.? Though CSE does
not provide food and beverage per caps or grosses, Rodrigues said
concessions sales were brisk, with Connie?s Pizza coming out near
the top of favorite items. The diversity of food offerings also
helped keep lines relatively short, from a vegan/vegetarian booth
that did ?huge? business to bratwurst, Mexican food, homemade Greek
offerings, an organic bakery and Asian dishes.

There were clearly times when the beer sales
were slow, or nonexistent (with bored staffers yelling for anyone
to come over and buy a drink near the South Stage), but Rodrigues
said organizers were pleased with beer sales, which exceeded
expectations. Another thing that exceeded projections were
merchandise sales. Rodrigues said that, with the exception of
children?s items, all the merchandise was sold out by the end of
the day Sunday. The fastest selling items were women?s fashion
T-shirts ($15-$25), which were sold out by Saturday. The event had
a number of corporate sponsors who bought naming rights to the
stages, among them main sponsor AT&T, along with Budweiser,
Adidas, Sony/Playstation, AMD, BMI and Chicago radio station
Q101.

?We were really not expecting to sell out all
the merchandise,? Rodrigues said. ?We typically do those kind of
numbers at Austin City Limits, but Lollapalooza sales last year
were lower than anticipated, so we just chalked it up to it being a
different market.? One explanation for why the 20 different items
sold faster and better this year than last was a reduction in the
different types of merchandise for sale. The more streamlined
package of goods focused on things like T-shirts, hats, totes,
posters, towels, stickers and beer cozies. Rodrigues said CSE also
does not give sales figures for merchandise.

CSE and Charles Attal Presents had 48 staffers
on site, which included production, sponsorship, marketing, public
relations, creative services, talent booking, legal and accounting,
There were also 200 members of a film crew on site, most of whom
were hired by CSE, which was filming footage for a Lollapalooza
documentary. There were also staffers from the independent
companies Interloper Films and Third Wave, who were filming footage
for the documentary, a webcast of the event and for projections on
the four main stages. The Chicago security firm S3 had 300 people
on site every day, augmented by 40-50 Chicago Police officers each
day.

Though they bunched up as expected around lunch
and dinner, lines at the two main concessions areas were relatively
short over the course of the weekend and contributed to an overall
manageable flow of traffic, Rodrigues said. She said there were few
heat-related injuries this year and though a final report from
medics is pending, she did not believe there were any transports
related to weather. To help attendees deal with the heat,
organizers handed out free bottles of water when lines got long at
the box office for cash sales. Also, all 14 water fountains on site
were converted to multi-spout bubblers, with 6-8 spouts each.

According to Chicago Police Department
spokesperson Monique Bond there were 13 arrests, on charges
including aggravated battery, possession of illegal substances and
indecent exposure. ?It was fairly quiet considering the amount of
people,? Bond said, adding the arrest total was similar to numbers
for the much bigger Chicago Blues Fest and other lakefront events.
?It was probably low because people weren?t drinking as much
because it was hot.?

There were, however, some fence jumpers who
breached security each of the three nights, Rodrigues said. ?It?s a
long perimeter, and that?s part of what?s going to happen at a big
event in the middle of a city,? she said.

One of the pleasant surprises this year, which
helped contribute to the large amount of families who attended with
small children, was the expansion of the Kidzapalooza area. The
area, which had T-shirt making and punk rock hairdo booths, as well
as an instrument ?petting zoo? where kids could play real
instruments and other arts and crafts, was highlighted by a stage
that featured popular kid?s performers and a surprise mini set from
punk legend Patti Smith.

Though a final assessment of the grounds is
still pending, Chicago Park District spokesperson Jessica
Maxey-Faulkner said the city was very pleased with how the event
went. ?We know that they will be contributing at least $600,000 to
various capital projects and programs in the parks this year as
opposed to the $400,000 they gave last year,? said Maxey-Faulkner.
?The crowd was very manageable and the promoters did a good
job.?

CSE won?t finish breaking down until Aug. 10,
but Maxey-Faulkner said it did not appear that the fields used by
the festival sustained serious damage. ?It doesn?t look like it
will be much work,? she said. ?It is definitely something we would
consider doing again.? The rental of the lakefront space was only
for one year, but Maxey-Faulkner said you ?never know? if a
multi-year deal could be in the works.

Rodrigues said organizers are definitely in
talks to reach a multi-year agreement to give the festival a more
permanent home. ? Gil Kaufman

Interviewed for this story: Jessica
Maxey-Faulkner, (312) 742-4786; Monique Bond, (312) 746-6000;
Stacey Rodrigues, (512) 478-7211