Tuesday, August 27, 2013
City of Plano and Live Nation partner to bring new music festival to the suburb
Details of the fest have yet to be released, but the date is set for May 2014.
The Plano City Council approved an agreement Monday night between the city and Live Nation, one of the country's leading concert promoters. Live Nation owns Ticketmaster and is responsible for booking local venues such as Gexa Energy Pavilion and The House of Blues.
The agreement paves the way for Plano to host an event that will draw attendees from not only North Texas, but also throughout Texas and the United States, said Amy Fortenberry, director of parks and recreation. While the event is expected to last two days and draw 20,000 guests per day in 2014, Fortenberry said that number should increase to 50,000-70,000 daily in future years.
As part of the agreement, the city of Plano will give Live Nation $500,000 to help book acts for the inaugural festival, while also donating $125,000 in in-kind services such as security. The in-kind donations will continue for up to five years, but the cash payment will only occur the first year, Fortenberry said.
Live Nation will be responsible for all additional costs, such as set up and take down of stages, and will keep 100 percent of the revenue. The revenue issue was a sticking point for Councilmen Pat Gallagher and Jim Duggan, who were the only two councilmembers to vote against the agreement.
"If we are going to give them all this money to jump start it and it is wildly successful, you would think there could be some revenue sharing," Duggan said.
Gallagher said he felt the city of Plano was taking a bigger risk than Live Nation, which has the option of pulling out of the agreement after one year. He said he didn't want to see Plano spend $625,000 next year only to have Live Nation cancel all future festivals.
City Manager Bruce Glasscock said he understood the concerns over revenue sharing, but said this type of agreement was necessary since the majority of events of this type are held in larger cities such as Austin. Getting companies such as Live Nation to come to the suburbs requires cities to foot part of the bill, Glasscock said.
"If Plano wants a signature destination event, it will cost us some dollars in the first year," he said. "... If we want this to be that destination event then we have to be willing to step up and encourage [Live Nation] to come into an area they have not come into before."
Councilman David Downs supported the agreement and said the music festival was needed in order to attract more people to the city.
"We need another event to draw people in from the outside ... and we are not going to get that without investing ourselves," Downs said.
Fortenberry said while the event will initially be similar in size to Richardson's Wildflower Festival, which is also held in May and draws about 20,000 guests over three days, the still-unnamed Plano festival will eventually be larger and attract a broader audience. In comparison, the three-day Austin City Limits Music Festival attracts up to 75,000 visitors per day each fall.
Estimates provided by city staff showed about $1.46 million in local spending as a result of the festival in the first year, which would provide the city of Plano with $14,600 in sales tax revenue. The city will also likely see about $14,800 the first year from the Hotel Occupancy Tax, Fortenberry said.
The economic impact would grow in subsequent years if the attendance increases, Fortenberry said, adding that local spending could top $7.5 million if the festival reaches 70,000 visitors per day.
As of Monday night there was no word on which type of musical acts were being targeted for the festival. Live Nation officials did not comment on the details of the festival after the meeting, but Fortenberry said the goal was to have artists from different musical genres that would attract attendees of all ages.
In an emailed statement, Danny Eaton, senior vice president of Live Nation — Dallas, said the company was excited to bring a world-class music festival to North Texas.
"Our planning will commence immediately [and] we look forward to sharing more details about the 2014 festival later this year," Eaton said. "As the leader in live entertainment we know we can deliver a great event that will provide great music and be an economic driver bringing in visitors and creating some part-time employment opportunities."
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