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Made in America festival was boon to downtown L.A., backers say

The Made in America festival brought 70,000 people to downtown L.A. with no major problems
Some downtown L.A. businesses reported a doubling of revenues during the Made in America weekend festival

A day after the Budweiser Made in America music festival brought the largest party ever to the Los Angeles Civic Center, downtown boosters said the weekend event had successfully recast the city’s image.

“We showed L.A. can do big things for our economy and people's enjoyment,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement Monday. “We want leading companies and event organizers to know we're changing L.A. so it's no longer a place where red tape is allowed to stand in the way of jobs, innovation and entertainment.”

The festival, which was also co-sponsored by rap mogul Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and Live Nation, drew more than 70,000 people to Grand Park for a weekend of rock, hip-hop and electronic acts. The event was the largest ever for the two-year-old park, a 12-acre space that stretches from City Hall to the Music Center, and was pulled off with no major problems.

Los Angeles police reported 17 arrests for the weekend -- six felonies for narcotics possession and parole violations and 11 misdemeanors for such offenses as public drunkenness and two citizen’s arrests for battery. In addition, police issued 82 traffic-related citations, according to LAPD Officer Jane Kim.

Kim said hundreds of police, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and private security officers had been deployed at the festival, but no significant incidents occurred.

“It was really a very successful event,” Kim said. “Everything went smoothly.”

Gill Riggs, a Music Center security officer, said there was no property damage except for some trampled plants -- which concert promoters will pay for under the event contract. As he strolled the park, where 500 workers were picking up trash and taking down soundstages with forklifts and cranes, Riggs hailed the event as a success.

“The event did exactly what it was supposed to do: bring a lot of happiness and joy to L.A.,” he said.

Local merchants were also smiling Monday, as they tallied up the boon in business they said the festival brought them.

Paul Trevino, general manager of Justice Urban Tavern at 1st and Los Angeles streets, said his business spiked by more than 50% over the Labor Day weekend. Normally, he said, weekends in the Civic Center have been like the “night of the living dead,” referring to the 1960s zombie movie.

“We’re in a business district and don’t get that much night and weekend business, but this weekend was fantastic,” he said. “Downtown needs to be vibrant, lively, open and safe, and it’s getting there.”

The Doubletree, a Hilton hotel at 1st and Los Angeles, also saw a significant uptick in business. On Sunday, the 434-room hotel sold 100 more rooms than normal and increased its occupancy rate from about 60% to almost 90%, said Orlando Salazar, front office director. Some of the additional guests were Anheuser-Busch executives -- the Doubletree was a host hotel for the Budweiser beer brand -- but others were concert-goers who decided to spend the night downtown, he said.

Groundwork, a coffee and tea shop at 2nd and Main, also saw a doubling of business even though it closed at 1 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, said John Ramos, assistant manager.

The festival’s overall economic impact has yet to be determined. According to Garcetti’s office, Made in America has pumped $10 million into Philadelphia, where the festival first began in 2012.

City officials are expected to review the event in coming days, including the effect of street closures, traffic, arrests and the final cost of the extra security personnel.

It was not yet clear how much money the festival raised for United Way of Greater Los Angeles, the nonprofit focused on alleviating poverty.

Follow @TeresaWatanabe for more news about Los Angeles

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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