Summer Rocks Music Festival Bill Passed By Aldermanic Committee

Mar 13, 2014 at 3:05 am
Summer Rocks Music Festival Bill Passed By Aldermanic Committee

St. Louis is one step closer to rocking this summer -- the ICM Partners way.

Wednesday afternoon, the aldermanic convention and tourism committee passed a much-amended Board Bill #328 -- now known among locals as the "Summer Rocks bill" -- which proposes to bring two multi-stage music festivals per year to downtown St. Louis through Los Angeles talent agency ICM Partners. It will now will go before the full board of aldermen, and then the board of estimate and appointment, and if it passes those, Mayor Francis Slay will review the matter no earlier than mid-April.

Update: The fully amended bill now is available on the city's website.

See also: Summer Rocks vs. Lollapalooza: By the Numbers

Only a couple of weeks old, Board Bill #328 already has quite the history. Alderwoman Phyllis Young introduced the bill February 28, and the original 64-page proposal caused an uproar around St. Louis, particularly concerning its nebulous language, a twenty-year contract and a noncompete clause. More questions were raised during a hearing March 6 about how the proposed festivals may have pushed Bluesweek and Taste of St. Louis from downtown to Chesterfield, and if local musicians and vendors would be included in the new venture. And while aldermen met again earlier this week to propose clearer language and protect St. Louis' interests, local musicians wanted to ensure that city leaders heard their pleas to safeguard the Gateway City's cultural heritage.

Judging by the newly clarified Summer Rocks proposal language and the spirited discussion during yesterday's committee meeting, it seems city leaders were listening.

"I'm grateful that so many people have come out to weigh in on it," said Lewis Reed, president of the board of aldermen. "Had it not been for folks like [the public] who weighed in from the beginning, we may not have seen some of these changes [in the proposal]."

Attorney Barbara Geisman opened Wednesday's meeting with amendments to the proposed contract -- amendments that she said the city and ICM had been working on regularly since the previous meeting and some of which were only cemented that morning. Many aldermen questioned the language and intent of some of the amendments, and alderwoman Sharon Tyus showed strong concern about being asked to vote on a major bill without enough time to read the new stacks of information.

Amendment highlights and clarifications:

* Leaders clarified what kinds of events would be prohibited as a "substantially similar" event under the most recent non-compete clause: two- or three-day multi-stage, multi-artist outdoor music festivals with at least 30,000 ticketed attendees per festival day, an average budget of $3.33 million, produced by a for-profit entity. Alderman Scott Ogilvie said that the original non-compete clause regarding this issue was the weakest and most troubling, but the new language makes it clear that homegrown festivals won't be ousted. "There is no existing event in the city that meets these criteria, and there hasn't been an event in recent memory that would be an issue," Ogilvie stressed. "I am personally much more confident now that this is more narrowly crafted." [Edited to add: If any of the grandfathered events mentioned below become as large as Summer Rocks or develop in ways that later make them "similar events" as stipulated in the non-compete clause, those events will not be prohibited -- they may continue to be produced and supported.]

* The non-compete clause now includes the Annie Malone May Day Parade as a non-competitive event that will not need to be altered or moved under the Summer Rocks contract. The parade joins Loufest, Big Muddy Blues Festival, Fair St. Louis and other events and festivals that have been grandfathered in and will not be prohibited by the Summer Rocks contract [Edited to add: Loufest, Big Muddy Blues Festival, Fair St. Louis and the Annie Malone parade currently do not meet the stipulations for "substantially similar" events as explained above, and thus would be permitted to function regardless.]

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