Taste of Chicago Suffers $1.3 Million Loss

Chicago plans to repeat 5-day plan and paid tickets for concerts and exclusive meals for this year's festival.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Officials made it shorter and raised prices, but the Taste of Chicago last year still lost more than one million dollars. That's got planners going back to the drawing board. Anthony Ponce reports.

    The revamped Taste of Chicago may have shown initial success, but new numbers suggests the festival is even deeper in the red.

    Following reports last year that the festival did not come close to breaking even, Taste of Chicago reported a $1.3 million loss Wednesday.

    The losses came despite Mayor Rahm Emanuel's hope to turn a profit after a $1 million loss in 2011 by shortening the festival from the traditional 10 days to five days and moving it away from the Fourth of July weekend. Attendees were also charged for concerts and exclusive meals throughout the festival.

    Emanuel: 'Taste' Needs to Change

    [CHI] Emanuel: 'Taste' Needs to Change
    Mayor Rahm Emanuel says Chicago is not the city it was 30 years ago. Now a worldwide culinary destination, he says the Taste can't remain as it was at its inception.

    However, cultural affairs Commissioner Michelle Boone told the Chicago Sun-Times in October that while restaurants saw profits, the Taste may never turn a profit again.

    Boone noted the city paid $6 million to host the festival, shelling out at least $655,000 for big names such as Jennifer Hudson and Death Cab for Cutie who played shows at the festival in July.

    City officials declared an initial success after the festival brought in an estimated 1.2 million people; a total Emanuel said was an increase of 5,000 per day over 2011.

    The reported success was attributed to the festival's decrease in violence, and the administration plans to continue its focus on safety.

    "The whole thing is, we wanted to make sure it was the safest, most family-friendly event possible," city spokeswoman Eve Rodriguez said Tuesday while discussing Taste revenue numbers.

    Boone admits last year's changes "reversed the downward trend" but it's not clear whether the gap was closed, especially considering the increased cost of city services.

    Despite the festivals losses, Emanuel plans to repeat its five-day festival, though he said it must continue to evolve.

    In addition, the city plans to continue charging attendees $25 for reserved seats to concerts at the Petrillo Music Shell and $40 a ticket for "Celebrity Chef du Jour" sit-down meals, city spokeswoman Kathleen Strand told Sun-Times.