By Mike Krauser

(CBS) — Lollapalooza returns to Chicago this weekend for the 11th year and to hear the head of the Grant Park Conservancy tell it, the festival should be a model for other festivals and other cash-strapped cities.

Bob O’Neill, the Conservancy president, says not only does Lollapalooza leave the park in better shape than it found it, but also donates a lot of money for improvements in other city parks.

“It’s the biggest music festival in a downtown park, it’s wildly successful and it’s very important to Chicago’s economy. Last year, it brought in $140 million to the economy, which is a lot for a weekend. Last year it also brought in $3.8 million for Chicago parks. So, it’s one of those festivals where we’re dependent on it now, Grant Park definitely is.”

The Lollapalooza model, O’Neill says, is the future. He says the money that comes in for park improvements, on top of repairing the inevitable damage, is something the cash-strapped city and Park District could not duplicate.

He says the event has become a fundraiser for the parks. The promoters have donated million over the years, he says, including large amounts of money for the new Maggie Daley Park and the restoration of Buckingham Fountain.
There’s also the value as a marketing tool.

O’Neill believes Lollapalooza has done more to promote what’s known as Chicago’s Front Yard, than even the internationally-recognized Buckingham Fountain.

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