More than a week after music fans rocked out at Lollapalooza, two mud-slopped fields in Grant Park remained closed to the public for the repair work that is set to begin Wednesday. The price tag for the post-fest repairs is estimated at $266,000, the Chicago Park District announced Tuesday.
Thanks to rain during the fest, concertgoers left the turf fields torn up, particularly at the southern end of Grant Park where about 30 acres of the park was blocked off Tuesday.
The three-day music festival, which was held Aug. 1-3, is hosted on 115 acres of Grant Park. The entire park is 325 acres including the high-traffic areas of Millennium Park and Buckingham Fountain.
On Tuesday, chain-link fences surrounded the swampy Lower Hutchinson Field from Balbo Avenue to 11th Street where headliners Eminem, Outkast and Kings of Leon performed on the Samsung Galaxy stage. Also closed off was mushy Upper Hutchinson Field from Balbo Avenue to roughly 8th Street where Iggy Azalea and Chance The Rapper graced what's known as Perry's stage.
The rest of Grant Park was open to the public, including Buckingham Fountain, the gardens and Butler Field where puddles, mud pockets and dozens of geese were spotted at the park's north end.
"For all intents and purposes—I was at Grant Park yesterday—it's basically open other than the one area down at the south," said Bob O'Neill, president of Grant Park Conservancy. "People are using it as if nothing happened there," he said of the rest of Grant Park.
A day after the fest, Lollapalooza promoter C3 Presents said it saw more damage to parts of Grant Park compared to 2013 due to heavy rains Aug. 3. Last year, the Chicago Park District estimated the repairs to cost $210,000 to $220,000.
But it wasn't as bad as 2011, when it cost roughly $800,000 to repair Grant Park after three inches of rain soaked festgoers, O'Neill said.
Representatives from C3 and the park district as well as an independent third-party contractor assessed the condition of Grant Park before and after the festival.
Under the terms of the concert agreement, C3 is responsible for picking up the repair tab.
A budget, timeline and plan for repair—to begin Wednesday—and restoration including soiling, sodding, seeding and aeration have been created, according to a statement C3 Presents issued Tuesday. But neither C3 nor the park district indicated when that stretch of the park would be reopened.
"While we expect the repairs to happen quickly, it takes time for sod/seed to take root ensuring the lifespan of good grass, and we respectfully ask for patience to ensure that Grant Park is restored to, or improved from, its pre-festival condition," the C3 statement said.
The damage from Lollapalooza was primarily turf damage at Hutchinson and Butler fields where headliners played on big stages, O'Neill said. Lower Hutchinson Field usually bears the brunt of the damage because the area is sunken and holds water, he said.
The wear and tear from thousands of people stomping all over Grant Park gets worse when it rains because the soil is more susceptible to getting tossed around, he said.
In addition to picking up the restoration tab, C3 pays for additional improvements to Grant Park, such as new trees, bushes and gardens, O'Neill said.
"After all this, we get a better park," he said.
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