Coachella Moving Out of Indio? Music Fest May Relocate, Cancel 2014 Event

If lawmakers move forward with a proposed tax, Coachella may be saying good-bye to its home for the past 13 years

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David McNew / Reuters

Dr. Dre performs at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California April 15, 2012.

The feuding between the Coachella promoter Goldenvoice and an Indio, Calif., city councilman may move the popular—and tax-generating—music festival out of the city limits.

One Indio city councilman, Sam Torres, is pushing a new 5 to 10 percent tax placed squarely on ticket sales for events with more 2,500 attendees, which could boost each three-day Coachella ticket (already starting at $349) by another $18 to $36, a jump that Goldenvoice president Paul Tollett says he simply won’t pass on to customers. With the future of Coachella in Indio up in the air, there’s always the option of moving.

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Tollett tells (i.e. threatens) the Desert Sun newspaper that the event may “take off 2014” and be near to Indio, but not in it, come 2015. Goldenvoice is halfway through a two-year contract with Indio, one that was difficult to sign after the neighboring city of La Quinta requested an environmental study to look at traffic, noise and pollution concerns, says the Los Angeles Times.

Coachella, which introduced the world to Tupac’s hologram earlier this year, has proven a top draw for both emerging and popular artists to show crowds new music, surprise performances and even reunions. Though the 2014 festival is remains uncertain, tickets for the 2013 show, held two weekends in April, are already on sale.

Even though the Indio City Council already rejected the tax proposed by Torres, that hasn’t deterred Torres from working to gain enough signatures to place the call for a tax on the next general election ballot in November.

Currently Coachella provides Indio with more than $800,000 from ticket sales, another $800,000 from a transient occupancy tax (levied for occupying a place for less than 30 days), and revenues from taxes paid on roughly $9 million in food and beverages sold during an event that drew about 85,000 each day in 2012. Torres says the new tax could bump the town’s revenues another $4 million per year—unless Coachella skips town, that is.

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