Five years ago, the Office of Special Events approved 80 events. In the past year, it approved 230.
That's on purpose.
We want St. Louis to be the place in the region where people come to have fun, attend big events, and celebrate milestones. The growing number of events has created challenges that have sometimes strained our public spaces and services, but I consider that a good problem.
Against that backdrop, when a major national talent agency and some deep-pocketed local investors said they were interested in creating a new music festival in St. Louis the size of "Lollapalooza" or "Austin City Limits," I was interested.
If it ever happens, "Summer Rocks" would be a two- or three-day festival with country music on Memorial Day weekend, and a variety of popular music on Labor Day weekend. It would be held on Market St. near City Hall with the Arch as the backdrop. It would include local musicians, as well as local food and some familiar food trucks. It would hire local people, adhere to minority participation requirements, be accountable for all security costs and City services, be bound to restore the public space to the way it was, encourage people to walk, bike, and take transit to the event, and pay fees depending on the size of the crowd.
In return, we would agree that as long as the festival was in operation, the City would not issue permits for other events of this size and magnitude. (Given that we have never hosted such an event, it did not seem like we were giving up much.) If Summer Rocks does not produce events, the agreement goes away, and another producer could step forward.
We specifically required that all existing events in St. Louis would be protected, and made sure that the agreement does not limit new events that are smaller than the size of Lollapalooza.
This wasn't very well reported, which led to some misunderstandings, which inspired some opposition. And some of the people who understood it correctly just didn't like the idea because they are afraid of what a new big event might do to St. Louis or because they imagined themselves able to do the same thing.
I understand all that. My bottom line is this: I want St. Louis to be the place where people come to have fun at big events. There is no guarantee that this particular event will ever actually happen. But, if it does, this will be a very big event in our own backyard.
That's worth trying.