Uncertainty looms over the future of Coachella as event organizers duke it out with city officials in Indio over a proposed tax initiative.
The initiative, which would put a 5 -10 percent tax on admissions for any entertainment event that generates more than 2,500 attendees, was proposed by Councilman Sam Torres. He believes the added cost of $18 per ticket would help to regain the $4 million dollars the city recently lost from its budget. However, according to estimations from Goldenvoice, the promotions company that runs Coachella, the tax would add an extra $36 to the ticket price.
If the tax goes through, Goldenvoice reps say the company would have to pay that additional cost, since they do not want to pass it on to the festival-goers. And that is not an option. Paul Tollett, president of Goldenvoice, says that if such an initiative goes through, the festival’s relationship with the city is over.
The Indio city council already turned the initial proposal down, but it still stands a chance of passing if approximately 27,000 Indio residents sign a petition to get the tax measure on a ballot in November.
As reported by The Desert Sun, Goldenvoice’s Tollett threatened “if the tax initiative of putting $4 million to $6 million onto Coachella gets on the ballot, we’re going to take off 2014; 2015 we’ll be at a new facility outside of Indio.”
Councilman Torres believes that the idea of moving out of the city isn’t due to the tax proposal alone, saying that the event organizers were already giving hints about moving on before the proposal. He forwarded texts sent to him by Skip Paige, vice president of Goldenvoice, to The Desert Sun. One of them read, “You know we’re moving right? All this is a game. Why in the world would we stay where we are not wanted.”
Paige hasn’t commented about the texts; for his part, Tollett didn’t say much either, claiming to have never seen the texts. He did, however, comment that the company didn’t have any concrete plans to move in the past and still doesn’t unless, of course, the tax initiative goes through.
Ultimately, Councilman Torres says he will drop the petition if some kind of long-term deal can be made with Goldenvoice. Tollett has not yet responded to these conditions.
Despite all the uncertainty, one thing is clear: Coachella 2013 is still on. The dates are set for April 12th-14th and April 19th-21st. What happens after that, time will tell.