Questions about downtown summer music festivals

ST. LOUIS - The City of St. Louis is poised to enter into a long term exclusive agreement to bring world class outdoor music festivals to the downtown area for the next 20 years.

ICM, which represents big names in film, TV, and music, has never produced a concert. The mega-talent agency hopes to bring a rock music festival to the Gateway Mall Labor Day weekend, and a country music festival Memorial Day weekend.

NewsChannel 5 has learned ICM doesn't represent a single country artist. In fact, the closest to country would be Kris Kristofferson. We couldn't reach anyone from ICM to comment, but a spokesperson for Mayor Francis Slay's office said ICM is bringing a new event, and would likely rely on a talent broker, not necessarily its own talent pool.

Representatives from ICM appeared before the Board of Aldermen's Convention, Tourism, Arts & Humanities committee Thursday. The committee pushed off a vote until next week saying more time was needed to understand updates and changes to the proposal.

If ultimately approved, the city could bring in anywhere from $1 million to $6 million in additional revenue from ticket sales and taxes.

There is some criticism because of the proposed non-compete clause. According to the bill, similar mega fests could not be held downtown on Labor Day or Memorial Day. Some long-time events are grandfathered in and would not be affected, including Fair St. Louis, LouFest, and Big Muddy.

Mike Kociela says the ICM proposal forced him to move Taste of St. Louis and Blues Week to Chesterfield.

"This ordinance is jeopardizing existing, grass-roots, local festivals that support our city's cultural history. Why would we consider passing an ordinance giving an unfair advantage to one business over another….so please explain why chasing out or crushing the two major Blues festivals that already exist on theses weekends is a good idea?" said Kociela.

Maggie Crane, a spokesperson for Mayor Slay's office, takes issue with Kociela's statements.

"Unless you are a Cochella or a Lollapalooza, you can hold your event anywhere anytime except when Summer Rocks would hold its event simply because you can't have two events in the same exact location at the same exact time," said Crane.

There are other questions about competition. The St. Louis Cardinals and Anheuser-Busch will be sponsoring music events and outdoor concerts. At the hearing Tuesday, Louis Hamilton, who represents both local corporations, pulled city officials out of committee meetings to discuss the bill which had been fast tracked.

Later, Aldermen announced the bill would be delayed a week to hear more public comment.

In the meantime, expect more changes to the bill as more organizations weigh in.


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