Coachella To Leave Coachella? Festival Threatens To Move, Cancel In 2014

Proposed tax might send event away from its Indio, California, home.

Organizers of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival are threatening to leave its Indio, California, home — and possibly even cancel the event in 2014.

Promoter Goldenvoice is upset by a proposed tax they say would cost them up to $6 million a year. Indio City Councilman Sam Torres is pushing a 5 to 10 percent tax on ticket sales for events with more 2,500 attendees. If approved, the tax would bump up the price of a three-day Coachella pass (already starting at $349) by another $18 to $36.

Goldenvoice president Paul Tollett said he refuses to pass that cost along to patrons, whose ticket cost, which jumped $34 for 2013, already includes $2.33 specifically for the City of Indio.

"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," Tollett told the Desert Sun newspaper.

Even though Indio City Council already rejected the tax proposed by Torres, the councilman is collecting signatures to add the measure to the November ballot. To move it forward, about 2,700 Indio residents would need to sign the petition by August 10.

"We think this tax is outrageous for all the things we've done with Indio," Tollett said. Goldenvoice estimates that annually the festival currently provides Indio with more than $800,000 in ticket fees, tax revenue on about $9 million in food and beverages sales, and a transient-occupancy tax that adds another $800,000 plus.

In response to huge demand and a sold-out festival in 2011, this past April, Coachella experimented with featuring the same artists for two consecutive three-day weekends, both of which attracted sold-out crowds of 85,000 per day.

Aside from the tax, Goldenvoice has previously expressed interest in moving Coachella to a larger venue with more-lenient noise restrictions and a later curfew, saying their ticket agency advised them they could have sold 300,000 tickets to the festival's two weekends in 2012.

In its 13 years, Coachella has built a reputation for showcasing emerging and legendary artists, surprise performances and long-awaited reunions. The festival made headlines around the world earlier this year when Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg debuted a hologram of Tupac during their closing set.

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