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Music festivals in big cities: How Made in America compares

Philadelphia is not the only large city to play host to a major music festival. Here are cities, venues, and issues seen with urban music festivals in the U.S.

The crowd at the 2017 Made in America Festival.
The crowd at the 2017 Made in America Festival.Read moreCAMERON POLLACK / For The Inquirer

Mayor Kenney's office says 2018 is the final year the Labor Day weekend Made in America music festival will be held at its current location on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Philadelphia is one of many U.S. cities that holds a major music festival, but each location conducts its event differently. Here's a breakdown of how Philly and some other major cities run these crowd-drawing fests.

The takeaways 

  1. Music festivals can be extremely effective at drawing visitors to and padding the wallets of their host cities.

  2. Although other cities often hold their festivals in parks instead of on the street, residents still experience problems like noise, traffic, and unruly attendees stemming from the events.

>> READ MORE: Made in America is moving off the Ben Franklin Parkway in 2019. Is it leaving Philadelphia for good?


City population: About 1.5 million

Major festival: Made in America

By the numbers: Made in America is a two-day festival that attracts more than 60 musicians total and up to 50,000 people per day.

Festival location:  MIA has been held on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which runs through a "culturally rich area" that includes some of the city's iconic museums. The location of future festivals, should the event stay in Philadelphia, is not yet known.

In the Parkway area, neighbors have been frustrated by the music and accompanying disorder for years.

Made in America economics: Since its establishment in 2012, MIA has had a $102.8 million impact on the city and the festival has paid the city $3.4 million in rent, according to an opinion piece Jay-Z wrote for the Inquirer and Daily News. In addition, the festival has donated $2.9 million to the United Way of Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, he wrote.

>> READ MORE: Jay-Z on Made in America: 'We are disappointed that the Mayor of the City of Philadelphia would evict us from the heart of the city' 


City population: About 2.7 million

Major festival: Lollapalooza

By the numbers: Lollapalooza is held over four days. In 2016, it hosted about 170 acts total and 100,000 attendees per day.

Festival location: Lollapalooza is held in Chicago's 319-acre Grant Park, which the Chicago Park District website compares to New York City's Central Park. The park is located in the Loop, a central neighborhood in Chicago.

Grant Park is home to Chicago's Museum Campus and a variety of recreational areas. It is also the location of the start and finish lines of the Chicago Marathon, the Taste of Chicago food festival, and the Grant Park Music Festival, among other events.

Despite the park location, Lollapalooza and the accompanying road closures cause headaches for residents and commuters, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Lollapalooza economics: Lollapalooza, reported the Chicago Tribune, brings about $6 million in revenue annually for the Chicago Park District. Including direct and indirect spending, the total economic impact of the festival is about $245 million.

>> READ MORE: Questlove responds to Made in America festival's move from the Parkway

New York City 

Population: About 8.6 million

Major festivals: As the United States' most populous city, New York hosts multiple music festivals. Two well-known events are Governors Ball and Electric Zoo.

By the numbers: Electric Zoo will host more than 80 artists over a three-day period at the end of August and beginning of September. About 90,000 fans attended last year. The three-day Governors Ball was held in June. Last year's Governors Ball featured 67 artists and drew about 150,000 attendees.

Festival location: Both festivals are held at Randall's Island Park, which is on an East River island between the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan. Randall's Island is about 480 acres, with the park taking up most of the space.

The park has a wide selection of sports facilities, nature areas, and the events venue, according to the New York City parks website. Randall's Island also hosts the Panorama Music festival and activities such as free yoga and movie nights.

Because the events are held on an island, they don't cause traffic shutdowns in the middle of the city. Still, Governors Ball discourages attendees from coming by car or cab due to high traffic volumes.

Governors Ball and Electric Zoo economics: According to its own report, Governors Ball had a $62.4 million impact on New York City's economy and brought in about $3.8 million in state and local tax revenue in 2017. The most recent figures for Electric Zoo weren't immediately available.

>> READ MORE: Tell us: Where should Made in America go?


City population: About 463,000

Major festival: Ultra Music Festival

By the numbers: Ultra Music Festival is a three-day electronic dance music extravaganza that attracts more than 60 artists overall and about 40,000 attendees per day, according to the Miami Herald.

Festival location: Ultra is held at downtown Miami's Bayfront Park. The park, which borders Biscayne Bay, boasts 32 acres of greenery, plus a waterfall. Bayfront also has an amphitheater, a laser light tower, a playground, and multiple monuments.

This location has been controversial for local residents, the Miami Herald reported — Bayfront Park is in the center of a residential area.

Although Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told the Herald that the festival had become part of Miami's "DNA," residents told the newspaper that many choose to leave the area for the weekend to avoid chaos and closed roads.

Ultra Music Festival economics: In 2018, according to finance website SmartAsset, Ultra Music Festival generated $79 million for the Miami economy, along with $10 million in tax revenue.

>> READ MORE: What does eviction of Jay-Z's Made in America mean for the Parkway?