ACL’s Greener Pastures

Zilker Park, the Texas home of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, will no longer be called a “dust bowl” thanks to a joint effort by Capital Sports & Entertainment and the city to fund a sprinkler system for the park.

The three-year, three-phase project to install sprinklers and water fountains will be done in conjunction with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

CSE’s Charlie Jones said funding the sprinkler and irrigation system was an easy choice. The goal of the project falls in with the ideology behind the festival in general.

“The original intention … was to create an event that would, in a sense, be owned by our community and have a long life span,” Jones told Pollstar. “As we have all recognized the last four years, [the event] has taken off and become fairly large and successful.

“We feel it’s our responsibility to work with the Parks Department to make the park better than it was when we got it.”

The sprinkler system installation is already about a year ahead of schedule and will be in use at this year’s ACL Festival September 15-17. That means greener pastures for the thousands who flock to Zilker Park from around the world.

“The goal was to have it up and running by June so by the time August rolled around, the park should look like a golf course,” he said.

CSE will put in more than $200,000 this year, with future funding determined as needed. Jones also said that helping to improve the location is more than just good business.

“It’s not just Zilker Park where we’re taking this approach. We’re taking the same approach with the Parks Department in Chicago for Lollapalooza,” Jones explained. “If events or promoters are going to use these types of spaces that are publicly owned, it’s our responsibility to do this, and we’re proud to do it.”

Last year’s “dust bowl” conditions – the product of a drought and “crazy atmospheric conditions” from hurricanes to the south – didn’t hurt the three-day event’s success. The ACL Festival earned the 2005 Pollstar Festival of the Year award.

This year’s ACL lineup of 130 acts was announced May 17th and includes Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Van Morrison, Massive Attack, The String Cheese Incident, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, The Raconteurs, Goldfrapp, Wolf Parade, KT Tunstall, Thievery Corporation, Gnarls Barkley, Cat Power, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Kings of Leon, and Aimee Mann.

– Tina Amendola