Taste of Chicago to charge for concert seats

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CHICAGO (AP) -- After three years of financial losses, the showcase summer festival Taste of Chicago will start charging music fans if they want concert seats. Concert-goers will also have to shell out more for Lollapalooza as that festival raises its ticket prices.

Taste of Chicago performances at the 3,000-seat Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park had been free, but the city wants to charge $25 a ticket this year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday. He explained that that $375,000 raised would help chip away at $2.7 million in losses at the festival over the last three years. He said taxpayers shouldn't be "on the hook" for the losses. Lawn seating for 30,000 other music fans will still be free.

Taste of Chicago was also shortened by five days this year and will be held from July 11 to 15 in Grant Park.

Last year's event drew 2.3 million visitors -- down 11 percent from the year before. Sagging attendance has been blamed on earlier closing times, the cancellation of fireworks and a focus on local talent. This year, the city promises a return to big-name entertainment.

The other key summer festival Lollapalooza is facing a harder year, with authorities taking away the organizer's tax-exempt status in exchange for extending its run in Grant Park until 2021.

Lollapalooza organizer, Texas-based C3 Presents, will now have to pay a minimum of $4 million in city and county amusement taxes as well as state liquor taxes.

Ticket prices for the Aug. 3 to 5 festival ranged from $90 for a single day to $215 for all three days, but they will now go up.