Rolling Stone reports today that Goldenvoice, the promoter for the annual Coachella festival in Indio, CA may have plans to unplug the event, as well as its country music festival, Stagecoach, and relocate them to a yet to be known locale. According to Rolling Stone, the Desert Sun, a local newspaper, obtained a text message conversation between Goldenvoice vice president, Skip Paige and an Indio official where Paige states that the organization will move the two multi-million dollar festivals out of Indio by 2015, if a new admissions tax initiative is passed into law.
Goldenvoice president Paul Tollett told the Sun, ”If the tax initiative of putting $4 million to $6 million onto Coachella gets on the ballot, we’re going to take off [in] 2014; 2015 we’ll be at a new facility outside of Indio.”
Goldenvoice executives estimate that the tax increase will slather on a whopping $36 increase per ticket, though Indio City Council Member, Sam Torres, who drafted the initiative, claims the increase will be “only” $18. Consequently, the new tax will raise $4 million in funds needed to bring a grapple of laid off City workers back to the workplace. But Tollett insists that Goldenvoice cannot pass the extreme tax hike on to festival goers, which will increase costs for the organization by $4-$6 million.
The initiative was turned down by City Council, so Torres is looking for 2700 Indio residents who wouldn’t mind spending up to $36 more for a ticket to sign a petition to get it on the ballot. Torres’ scheme for a tax hike may well be a moot point, because Tollett’s already poured money into options for a new venue. Tollett claims that he’d like a long-term arrangement with the City, but it’s been a year-to-year arrangement, to date. So, he’s turned his attention to other venues – ready, willing and ripe to strike a deal.
While remaining quietly on the fence about the possible loss of millions in revenue, Glenn Miller, Mayor of Indio disagreed that the City is only interested in an annual arrangement. Regardless, City Council can’t begin negotiations with Goldenvoice, until the tax initiative is either put on the ballot or tossed in the “counter-productive taxation circular file.” Meanwhile, Goldenvoice executives are considering purchasing the Eldorado Polo Club.
Tollett stands ready to take the deed if and when Torres gets those 2700 signatures. “Sam, his slogan should be, ‘I want to turn the city of festivals into the city of festival’ — the Tamale Festival, which is free,” said Tollett. “That’s what he’s doing. That’s his legacy.”
“Paul’s words have been ringing in my ears,” Torres told myDesert.com Monday, talking of Tollett’s threats to move the festival out of Indio. “He’s got a strong will. He can definitely make good on it.”
Still, Torres still thinks that Tollett is probably just posturing to get a better deal, and he’s asked the Mayor to add his name to the city’s ad hoc committee on the matter, claiming that he’d like to strike a deal that better benefits Indio residents, without the need for that pesky petition. According to myDesert.com, John Bingham and Al Meza, the two major supporters of the petition, publicly stated that they will drop their efforts, provided the Mayor include Torres in the ad hoc sandbox.
Tollett, ambivalent, made this statement: “It is not appropriate for us to dictate who the city chooses to represent them in any negotiations, they need to run the city the way they see fit. Throughout the years, our communication and cooperation with the city has been one of the main reasons these shows are so successful. I would like to see that continue.”