Orion Music + More festival invests in Belle Isle, Detroit city parks

Belle Isle has certainly been a hot topic of conversation lately, and it seems like the nation's largest city island park is going to get a little outside help after all.
Tickets are now on sale for the Orion Music + More festival being held on Belle Isle June 8-9, featuring headliners Metallica, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bassnectar, and many more. This is the second year for the hard-rock-centric music festival, which was first held over a single weekend last year in Atlantic City.
Seeking a new location for the festival, which is expected to draw in about 30,000-35,000 people per day based on last year’s attendance, the organizers – Austin-based C3 Productions -- approached the City of Detroit about using Belle Isle. Bradley Dick, the city's director of general services (who at the time was also filling in as interim recreation director), worked out a deal with festival organizers that would put money right back into Detroit's parks.
As part of the deal, the Orion Music + More festival is to pay a set fee of $100,000 in 2013, $100,000 in 2014, and $250,000 in 2015 which will be funneled directly back into capital improvements for Detroit's parks. Dick's idea was to split this revenue 50/50 between Belle Isle and Detroit's other 100-plus parks so that the economic benefit of the festival is widespread.
The City of Detroit will also receive a set percentage of all ticket sales, concessions and merchandise sales. All of this money will be re-invested into the city's parks, and will also provide significant seed money for the city to apply for matching grants, enabling them to turn, say, $200,000 into $400,000.
While Orion is on the books for 2013, years 2014 and 2015 are not yet confirmed. The festival has the first right of refusal for the same weekend both of those years and terms and conditions, should they continue in Detroit, have already been agreed upon.
As a burgeoning host city for major events, Detroit potentially has its own Lollapalooza/SXSW on its hands with Orion -- a diverse showcase of major artists held once per year. This is the largest music festival to ever be held on Belle Isle.

Source: Bradley Dick, General Services Department Director of the City of Detroit
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

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Nicole Rupersburg is a former Detroiter now in Las Vegas who regularly writes about food, drink, and urban innovators. You can follow her on Instagram @eatsdrinksandleaves and Twitter @ruperstarski.
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