ACL producers, city council to vote on possible festival extension [UPDATED]

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Update at 7:45 p.m., Aug. 2 - The Austin City Council postponed voting  Aug. 2 on the agreement to extend ACL Music Festival. This agreement with ACL producer C3 Presents will instead be voted on Aug. 16.

Music will drown the city of Austin for two weekends if Austin City Limits Music Festival is extended next year.

If Austin City Council agrees with the extension, ACL will take place Oct. 4-6 and Oct. 11-13 next year at Zilker’s Great Lawn. Many expect this longer event will help meet the increased demand of people desiring to attend the festival. C3 Presents, the entertainment planning company that produces ACL as well as more than 800 shows nationwide, is also in discussion with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department to renovate Auditorium Shores, a park where events are held throughout the year.

In previous years C3 gave Austin Parks Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to improve local parks, 8.5 percent of its ACL ticket sales. If the festival dates are extended, they will give a larger percentage.

“There are still many details to work through,” Sandee Fenton, a C3 Presents spokesperson said. “We hope we will reach a final agreement, and as soon as we have more information to share, we will make an official announcement and provide more details.”

ACL rakes in more than $73 million in visitor spending and total economic impact for Austin, according to a 2011 KXAN news story.

C3 Presents has also agreed to provide additional security and cleanup crews if the festival is extended. Throughout the years C3 has given millions of dollars to Austin and Austin Parks Foundation, which works to coordinate park improvement through many local agents, to help maintain the Great Lawn.

Ralph Webster, president of Austin Parks Foundation, said C3 has basically paid for the Great Lawn, which is about a $2.5 million investment. They have resown the lawn, changed to cleaner irrigation methods and purchased additional equipment to help maintain the lawn. In 2009, when a rainy ACL turned freshly planted grass to mush, C3 stepped in to replace the grass.

“Nobody is requiring C3 to donate millions and millions of dollars to The Great Lawn, but they do it because they want to see a world class park,” Webster said. “They are great neighbors who will take care of any damages that happen. It is their lawn as well.”

If the extension is approved, C3 has also offered to increase the money it donates each year to help improve Austin parks, including Auditorium Shores. Many events held at Auditorium Shores end up becoming a dust bowl after thousands of feet have trampled the lawn, such as the Austin Food & Wine Festival produced by C3.

Once a cost is approved for the renovation of Auditorium Shores, C3 said they will make a commitment to fund these improvements.

“The improvements to the park are vital to the longevity of future events, those produced by C3 as well as other entities,” a C3 Presents spokesman said. “We have been in discussions for some time to make these improvements, and we are thrilled to work with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department to restore Auditorium Shores to a lush green space for Austin.”

History sophomore Claire Hutton said the cost of attending ACL is a hefty price for a college student to pay.

“Even though I am a student going to UT with limited funds, I feel like the unique experience of attending ACL is worth the cost,” Hutton said. “Obviously other people feel the same way if the city is contemplating extending the dates for more people to attend.”

City Council will review and vote soon on C3’s donation and possible extension of ACL, although the date of the vote has not yet been announced.