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August 17, 2015
Grant Park is in much better shape after Lollapalooza this year and repairs are estimated to cost less than past years thanks to the lack of rain.
"The one thing that really saved it was it's very dry out. There wasn't any turning up of the soil and all the mud," said Bob O'Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy.
When it rains during the fest, the foot traffic of thousands of music fans tears up the turf fields and causes the most damage. Although this year's festival was evacuated for about an hour because of the approaching storms, there was minimal rainfall.
The cost estimate to repair Grant Park this year was $236,223, less than the $266,000 pricetag in 2014 when heavy rains soaked the fields during the music festival, according to the Chicago Park District.
Restoration was underway with landscaping crews working on repairing Lower Hutchinson Field. Fresh patches of soil had been added in the area - not far from the Samsung Galaxy stage - now just a memory - where Florence and the Machine closed out the three-day music festival early on Aug. 2.
All areas of Grant Park appeared to be open to the public as of Friday with the exception of Upper Hutchinson Field, which is at the southwest corner of Balbo and Columbus drives where Perry's stage stood. That area was fenced off for repairs.
Work will continue through the third week of September at the latest, park district spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner wrote in an email.
The fields need water to return to the lush green lawn; large sprinklers will be set up to help, O'Neill said.
C3 Presents did a site assessment of the condition of Grant Park before and after the music fest with the Chicago Park District and an independent third-party contractor.
The plan for repairs include a combination of sodding, seeding, adding soil, aeration and rototilling, according to C3.
"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 statement said.
Under the terms of the concert agreement with the park district, C3 Presents is responsible for paying for the park restoration.
During this year's evacuation, festgoers trampled the garden on Michigan Avenue near Van Buren Street, south of the Art Institute of Chicago, O'Neill said. He said he has been assured that Lolla will pay to repair the garden and he also is pushing for tree replacement and restoration of the rose garden north of Buckingham Fountain as additional improvements to Grant Park.
There's greater visibility of Grant Park with its proximity to Maggie Daley Park, the Art Institute's Modern Wing, skate park, the Museum Campus, Northerly Island and of course Millennium Park, he said.
"Grant Park is really on people's radar," O'Neill said. "There is incredible pressure that it look good and be maintained well."
Meanwhile, the cost estimate to fix up Union Park after last month's Pitchfork Music Festival is pegged at $6,500, Maxey-Faulkner said.
On Day 2 of the three-day festival, Union Park was evacuated as a storm bore down, dumping rain across the Chicago area - including the Near West Side park. The festival, featuring Vic Mensa, reopened about 70 minutes later.
The cost will be covered by the security deposit paid by event organizers, she said. She could not immediately provide information on repair costs for previous years.
Work won't start until mid to late September, which is after North Coast Music Festival held at the same park on Sept. 4-6. Restoration work in the fall will allow for the "optimal growing season for turf grass," she said. Fields will be aerated, topsoil will fill the low areas and grass seed will be spread throughout, she said.
The park's fields will be closed through the fall and are expected to open for use in April depending on the weather, Maxey-Faulkner said.