EAST VILLAGE — Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended the decision to charge more for "premium" seats at Taste of Chicago concerts Tuesday, as well as for more desirable areas of the lawn at the Petrillo Music Shell for the first time.
"When I ran for mayor, the Taste of Chicago for a number of years was losing money," Emanuel said at a news conference Tuesday at Wells High School. While some insisted the city should "scrap it," he added, "I said no, we're gonna reform it and change it."
Emanuel said that change is ongoing. Last year's Taste turned a profit and continues to pump about $100 million into the city's economy, he said.
He touted the addition of food trucks and celebrity-chef events to the annual summer festival.
Charging more money for premium seats and areas of the lawn, while keeping the average price at $25, he said, would keep the Taste vital.
Earlier this month, the city said it will "sell 3,000 general-admission lawn seats," but it did not specify the cost of those seats. More than 34,000 lawn seats will remain free, and "the average cost per ticket to concerts will not exceed $25," according to the Mayor'sOoffice. Top ticket prices for "premium seats," however, would rise to $50.
"If you're going to the concerts, you can still see the concerts free," Emanuel said. "If you want seating, that's a different thing."
Emanuel made reference to enjoying the Taste himself, as in his own dance performance to Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" last summer, saying, "As you probably know from the video, I've listened to music over there.
"We've actually showed that you can not only make the changes," Emanuel added, but "modernize the Taste of Chicago."