More than a mint: Hotel industry seeks $75M for Chicago comeback

Lollapalooza’s back, but trade group says industry still suffering amid reopening

Chicago /
May.May 19, 2021 05:38 PM
(Lollapalooza, Getty)

Lollapalooza returns to Grant Park this summer, but hotels say they need more money to rock on. (Lollapalooza, Getty)

Lollapalooza will be back in Grant Park this summer, but the Chicago hotel industry is still singing the blues.

With tourism and occupancy way down, the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association has asked Mayor Lori Lightfoot to set aside $75 million to help hotels in a last push toward recovery, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The money the trade group is seeking would come from $1.9 billion in federal coronavirus aid the city has coming its way, according to the report.

With roughly 50,000 hotel rooms in the city, the request comes out to around $1,500 per room.

Over the last year, Chicago’s hotel industry has been one of the hardest-hit in the country. Struggling with rock-bottom occupancy levels, owners have skipped mortgage payments and county property tax bills, and several properties have faced foreclosure. The hotel occupancy rate remains under 30 percent in the city.

Hotels across the state have been hit hard, too. With that in mind, Hotel & Lodging CEO Michael Jacobson also wants Gov. J.B. Pritzker to allot $250 million in federal Covid money for all of Illinois, the report noted.

Some hotels in the city are opening back up, like the embattled Palmer House Hilton, along with the Westin Chicago River North and Sheraton Grand, according to the Sun-Times.

Headlining Lollapalooza’s return after last year’s cancellation — the four-day weekend starts July 29 — are Foo Fighters, Post Malone, Tyler the Creator and Miley Cyrus. While the event will provide a shot in the arm to hotels, Jacobson said, “we just need that initial influx. We just need a little boost because hotels haven’t gotten a penny of support from the city of Chicago throughout this all.” Representatives for the mayor and governor did not return calls for comment.

Lollapalooza has also been a boon for short-term rentals. During the festival weekend in 2019, Airbnb reported 22,000 people made reservations in the city, a record-breaking number.

[Sun-Times] — Alexi Friedman 


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