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ACL Music Festival Funding Park Improvement Projects

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 04:06 PM CDT

Everything is in place for the Austin City Limits Music Festival except the 70 thousand fans who are expected to converge on Zilker Park Friday morning. This is the 11th year of ACL and the sign out front says it all: 3 days, 8 stages, 130 bands. Over Friday, Saturday and Sunday 220 thousand people---about 70 thousand a day--- will crowd into Zilker Park. When you add up all the hotel and restaurant receipts the festival has an economic impact of $73 million. But, even if you've never been to the festival there's still a good chance your life is being touched by it. 

A one day pass to ACL buys you more than 11 hours of non-stop music. Eight and a half percent of ticket sales goes to the City of Austin and it can only be spent on park improvements. The biggest project so far is the complete renovation of Zilker Park's Great Lawn in 2009.

Lisa Hickey is the marketing director for C3 Presents. She's framed by what is likely to be the most photographed spot at ACL this weekend.

"We worked with the parks department to install new sod, a new irrigation system and to grade the park so that when it rains we don't have erosion of these grounds. And as you can see now, three years later, it is looking lush and beautiful out here," said Hickey.

But, the renovation of Zilker Park is just one of hundreds of park projects funded by ACL ticket sales. Since 2006 the Austin Parks Foundation has provided $6 million for improvements to city parks. In south Austin a disc golf course got a complete makeover including new baskets and improved trails.

In central Austin a grant paid for the installation of sun shades over a neighborhood splash pad. And further north, another grant helped piece together a mosaic project at a neighborhood pool.

"We've also contributed to projects at Republic Square Park, Zilker Botanical Gardens, the Barton Creek Greenbelt, and the Bull Creek Greenbelt," said Hickey.

The list is long and it's expected to get much longer.
With ACL expanding to two weekends next year the percentage of ticket sales dedicated to improving city parks will grow from eight and a half percent to 10 and a half percent.

"You have twice the weekends, potentially twice the number of tickets and potentially twice the number donated back to the parks foundation each year. Which would mean twice the benefits to Austin parks," said Hickey.

The next bit project might be renovating Auditorium Shores. The downtown park hosts the free SXSW concert series, Fun Fun Fun Fest and the Austin Reggae Festival. If C3 Presents makes the commitment, the lawn will be redone, and restrooms and a concession stand could be added.

By Bettie Cross
ACL Music Festival Funding Park Improvement Projects

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