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Daley Insists Taste Of Chicago Will Remain Free

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Taste Of Chicago

(Credit: tasteofchicago.us)

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CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) – Mayor Richard M. Daley has said admission to the Taste of Chicago will remain free, but new information shows that may not necessarily end up being the case.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel reports, the sole company that has bid in the privatization of the Taste of Chicago and other lakefront festivals is proposing a $10 admission fee.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel reports

The Chicago Sun-Times, quoting city hall sources, reports the lame duck Daley administration is not focused on the privatization, and the bidder is getting anxious as it will become tougher to book top talent the longer the process takes.

Mayor Daley has defended taking the festivals private, saying despite the $7 million budget gap, admission to the Taste would always remain free. He says to make up for the shortfall, the selection committee would revise the food.

Celebrate Chicago LLC, the private group that has bid on the Taste, initially proposed charging $20 for admission, but returning half the charge in food and drink tickets. The other $10 would help pay for bigger-name entertainment, but there would be a second price to see that entertainment.

The firm later said it would cut the proposed admission fee to $10.

The admission fee would apply during weekends, holidays and after 4 p.m. on weekdays.

The concert tickets would cost $25 to $65, but the $20 Taste admission fee would be waived for those who bought concert tickets.

City Special Events first deputy director David Kennedy would not say whether the new bid with the lower admission fee would be acceptable to City Hall. He also would not say when the city would decide whether to go ahead with privatizing its festivals, the Sun-Times reported.

Celebrate Chicago LLC is a joint venture between the Illinois Restaurant Association, JAM Productions, and AEG Live. The firm has also bid for Viva Chicago, and the Blues, Jazz, Celtic, Country and Gospel festivals.

Taste of Chicago has been costing the city millions over the last three years.

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