ACL Fest Announces $369 Million Economic Impact and $6.7 Million Donation for Parks

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 by Chad Swiatecki

Austin City Limits music festival released the results of its annual local economic impact study on Tuesday, the same day it announced the lineup for this year’s two-weekend event at Zilker Park. every October.

The study, conducted by AngelouEconomics, estimated the economic impact of last year’s festival at $369m, a figure originally reported at $345m but later updated to correct a ‘miscalculation’ . That total was said to equate to more than 3,500 full-time jobs for the local economy, with the festival accounting for more than $2.6 billion in economic activity since its organizers began tracking impact data. on businesses in 2006.

Also on Tuesday, the Austin Parks Foundation announced that it had received $6.7 million from the festival this year to help fund improvements to the city’s parks. The annual donation from festival organizers C3 Presents is in addition to the $100,000 fee paid to the city for the use of Zilker Park, though it also pays more than $2 million a year to cover all costs of the city for public safety and the restoration of the grounds after the festival.

To date, ACL Fest has donated more than $48 million to the parks foundation. This annual injection is a significant part of the organization’s annual budget, which in recent years has been around $8 million.

When the festival was canceled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it caused a delay of at least 18 months for some planned park improvements due to a lack of funding.

“It was such a relief to be back at the event last year. During the pandemic, our overcrowded parks were even more overcrowded because they were among the only safe places people could go. There are plenty of opportunities to quickly put that $6.7 million to work,” said Colin Wallis, CEO of the Austin Parks Foundation.

While the city’s parks and recreation department has an annual operating budget of about $100 million, Wallis noted that identified capital needs for land acquisition and improvement projects are several times higher than this amount.

“As an organization, we’re trying to think strategically about how we can leverage the dollars, because $6.7 million seems like a lot of money, but you have to keep in mind that the department budget parks is around $100 million and if you look at their backlog of capital…$6.7 million is a relatively small amount of money, and we’re still thinking about how we can make the most of it best party.

Prior to the pandemic, members of the parks board took a hard look at the city’s agreement with C3 and how the festival’s prep and teardown limits residents’ use of the park for about one month a year. This discussion did not result in any changes to the contract, in part because existing ordinances cap the maximum fee the city can charge for use of the park at $100,000.

Wallis, who presented at that meeting to discuss how C3 donations are calculated based on a percentage of revenue from ticket and beverage sales, said they were helping to make needed improvements in the entire park system.

“I welcomed this conversation because, while I might be a total homer on this, I feel like it’s a great deal for the fans and the parks where everyone wins” , Wallis said. “Could it be better?” You can look at any deal and say it could be better, but the festival has always put that gift forward and been open to other opportunities. So it’s holding up pretty well. »

A spokesperson for the Austin Parks Foundation told the austin monitor that the 2021 contribution of $6.7 million would be used to:

  • Support the installation of safety and energy efficient lighting at Highland Neighborhood Park or Brownie Neighborhood Park (District 4)
  • Support the resurfacing and restoration of existing land in several Austin parks
  • Purchase materials to create art and historical installations at the Carver Museum (District 1)
  • Replace and add standard PARD equipment in school parks (all districts)
  • Provide modern and eco-friendly field lighting at Govalle Park (District 3)
  • Bring back the Zilker train with the all-electric Zilker Eagle
  • Implement stormwater mitigation measures in the Pecan Grove area of ​​Zilker Park (District 8)
  • Fund the planning, design and construction of an all-inclusive playground in Onion Creek Metro (District 2)
  • Provide access and implement basic park amenities in undeveloped Earl J. Pomerleau Pocket Park (District 4)
  • Support priority areas for implementation set out in the Little Walnut Creek Greenbelt Vision Plan (District 1)
  • Fund a study to explore other ways to fund parks in Austin (all districts)
  • Greenbelt Maintenance: Support ongoing trail improvements and ongoing maintenance (District 5)
  • Provide professional design and permitting support for community-initiated park improvement projects (all districts)
  • Provide support for year-round volunteer projects and park activations during the ACL Festival, citywide volunteer events like It’s My Park Day and more (all districts)
  • ACL Fest grant program, supporting community-initiated park improvement projects (all districts)
  • Montopolis Playground: Community Engagement and Design for Park Improvement (District 3)
  • Scenic Brook Design Services: Provide professional design and permitting support for the implementation of Pocket Park’s community-initiated vision plan (District 8)
  • Brownie Neighborhood Park: Support the development of an undeveloped neighborhood park (District 4)
  • Doris Miller Auditorium: Infrastructure and equipment to facilitate Notes for Notes Music Program (District 1)

The city is currently in the information-gathering phase of a vision plan for Zilker Park, with a key area of ​​concern being the protection of the ceiling over a long-closed landfill on the property that includes the used area. for parking visitors and organizing events. . This plan should be completed and presented to the city council for approval next year, said Liana Kallivoka, deputy director of PARD.

“It’s unclear what will happen to the landfill,” she said. “People who live close to the park love it and consider Zilker their neighborhood park, while for people who live far away, the only way they can access the park may be by their car, and if they have to go, they need a place to park. So there’s a push and a pull and we have to find ways to make the park friendly for everyone, because it’s a metropolitan park for everyone.

Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.

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