Coachella Wins; Tax Proposal Dropped

Indio, Calif., City Councilman Sam Torres, who is not on Goldenvoice’s guest list, has dropped a controversial tax proposal, meaning the promoter’s Coachella music fest will remain where it’s at.

Torres, without the support of fellow council members, attempted to put an admission tax on the November ballot. The tax would have been a 5 percent to 10 percent increase on admissions to entertainment events of more than 2,500 people – meaning a ticket to Coachella would increase $18 to $36.

However, Goldenvoice President Paul Tollett said the promotion company would absorb the cost rather than pass it on to the consumer. But eating the $4 million to $6 million was not in the plans and Tollett made it clear that if the proposal made the November ballot, Goldenvoice would cancel the 2014 event and set up shop elsewhere in 2015. Goldenvoice’s Stagecoach country fest would obviously go, too. Alex Haagen III, owner of the Empire Polo Field where the three-day events take place, said he was on board to build a new venue in another city.

Torres has now dropped his plan and explained why on the city’s website.

“The potential for the music festivals to move out of the city exists, and if this should occur it would negatively impact the region; I cannot in good conscience allow this to happen no matter how dire the city’s circumstances,” he said.

He said he was ready to take it to the next level.

“I don’t take a threat by Paul Tollett lightly,” he told NBC4.

Tollett emailed Pollstar, noting he is on vacation and does not have full Internet access, but referred the magazine to Indio’s press release.

In it, Mayor Glenn Miller praised Torres’ change of heart.

“We are committed to working with Goldenvoice to identify mutually beneficial solutions to ensure that the music festival economic engine stays in Indio and continues to boost the regional economy,” Miller said.

Goldenvoice planned to buy 80 acres of land comprising Eldorado Polo Club, Triangle Bar Farms, Fish Creek and other property. The Eldorado club is used for camping during the festivals.

Torres, while the initiative was still alive, forwarded to the city’s Desert Sun newspaper text messages he received from Goldenvoice VP Skip Paige.

“The deal to purchase El Dorado Polo Club is DOA,” a June 18 text reportedly reads. “We are entering into escrow on 600 acres at 62 and Van Buren (in the unincorporated Vista Santa Rosa community.”

On June 21, Paige texted, “You know we’re moving right? All this is a game. Why in the world would we stay where we are not wanted. LQ doesn’t want us, Indio wants to take all our profits. It’s a joke.
“We made the decision to move out of Indio the day we got our 2 year permit and George (Williams, husband of former City Councilwoman Melanie Williams) tired to sue us.”

Tollett told the paper that, to this day, he doesn’t want to leave.

“Actions speak louder than words,” he said. “We tried to buy Eldorado. Does that say we wanted to leave?”