Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A Cover Charge and The Taste

Da Mayor:
There's still time to find a private company to run Taste of Chicago this summer, with no entrance fee and a focus on food rather than music

This business model, where you incur all the management costs, that you cannot recoup via the sales has no takers.   But don't take my word for it.  Read the next paragraph.
The Daley administration rejected the lone bidder to run the Taste and other summer festivals last week, turning down a plan by Celebrate Chicago --- a joint venture of the Illinois Restaurant Association, Jam Productions and AEG Live --- to charge $20 for admission to the city's premier summer lakefront party.

The article goes on to say that the city has "lost more then $6.9M" on the Taste Of Chicago and other lakefront events over the past 3 years.  First I would question the validity of this number.  Does the number include the amount of taxes the city collects as Taste visitors spend money in retail stores or bars or museums that they would not have otherwise visited?  Does it include an estimate in additional revenue that is generated by visitors riding the CTA and RTA?  How about additional sales taxes collected as restaurants featured at the Taste see additional business?  The personal gratification of visitors also has a value even if you can't spend it. 

OK, OK, let's assume that the City of Chicago loses money by running the Taste.  Let me ask a few more questions.
  1. Did the city lose tens of millions of dollars clearing snow from city streets this past week?
  2. Does the city lose tens of millions of dollars every year paying for police and fire protection?
  3. Does the city lose money maintaining parks and recreational facilities?
The City of Chicago is a not-for-profit organization and the Taste Of Chicago is a service that the city provides using tax revenues.  If Da Mayor and other city officials feel the Taste Of Chicago is an luxury we can no longer afford then they should come out and say so.  Cancel and face any electoral consequences that might come.

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