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Lollapalooza Leaves Grant Park Less Damaged, Early Assessments Say

 The Chicago Park District and advocacy groups were on the scene surveying damage Monday.
Grant Park Recovers from Lollapalooza
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THE LOOP — Lollapalooza organizers managed to significantly reduce damage to Grant Park over the weekend, but the biggest impact surrounding the Downtown festival was trash and disarray outside the grounds, the Grant Park Conservancy said.

Brown patches of grass are "as bad as it gets," this year, "and this is 10 times better than it was two years ago," said Bob O'Neill, head of the conservancy, who consulted with festival organizers in advance to reduce damage to Chicago's front yard.

O'Neill said garbage littered the streets around Grant Park, but that producers told him they were willing to set up and maintain more trash cans outside the grounds for future fests. C3 Productions did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"They had a record amount of people, more than 300,000: The only thing that saved it was that the ground wasn't as wet as in previous years because July was so dry," O'Neill said.

A full evaluation of damage to the park will have to wait until stages and tents are removed by the end of this week, said Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, spokeswoman for the Chicago Park District. A walk-through with landscapers will happen Friday or Monday, she said.

O'Neill estimated that park restorations will cost C3 Presents between $250,000 and $300,000 to replace some grass, hedges and trees that were damaged or trampled by fest-goers.

Some Downtown residents reacted to a bird's-eye image of the park posted on Lollapalooza's Facebook page Sunday: "#timetosod," one joked, reacting to the patches of brown grass in the park.

O'Neill called this year's damage "little more than normal wear and tear," a huge improvement from the 2011 festival that turned Hutchinson Field into a mud pit and cost C3 Presents close to $1 million to correct.

O'Neill attributed the sod's survival to the baseball stadium-quality grass planted in the wake of that year's fest, better fencing and policing of the grounds, and just "a general sense among attendees that this park should be respected."

The weather was also perfect for grass preservation: dry in the month leading up to the three-day event, a light sprinkling Friday morning that kept the grass alive but didn't cause much mud, and rain expected this week that will help revive the trampled patches, O'Neill said.

The stage and tent teardowns will last until Thursday. Balbo Avenue from Columbus Drive to Lake Shore Drive is closed until Thursday, with Jackson Boulevard and Congress Parkway scheduled to reopen by 4 p.m. Wednesday.

In a statement issued Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called Lollapalooza 2013 a success.

"Chicago is a great music city, and I'm thrilled that Lollapalooza was again such a positive event for the city, attracting high-caliber musical artists and fans from all over" the mayor said.

In addition to reducing the permanent damage to Grant Park, preparation for this year's Downtown music fest led to fewer criminal incidents, police said.

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said that ambulance responses for alcohol-related medical emergencies were "the biggest thing," and attributed the drop in criminal incidents to such measures as assigning more undercover officers and erecting slick, black steel barriers to discourage fence-hopping