Taste of St. Louis Owner Says He Was Pushed Out By Summer Rocks

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Taste of St. Louis, when it was downtown. Tear. | Sarah Rusnak

In case you haven't heard, people are pretty upset about Taste of St. Louis moving to Chesterfield this fall. At first, owner Mike Kociela told us, it was simply a matter of making the event more regional -- a logistics issue. Yesterday, though, we went to the board of aldermen meeting concerning Summer Rocks, a music festival that wants to come to St. Louis next summer.

See also: Taste of St. Louis Moving to Chesterfield

The meeting began as any other (read: boring). Representatives from the city and IMC, which owns Summer Rocks, went through the ordinance that would give the festival exclusive rights to hold large music events downtown every summer for the next twenty years.

Each alderman asked questions, mostly about the controversial non-compete clause, excessive noise and tax revenue. Twenty years is a long time for something like this, but the city doesn't have to pay for any of it and stands to make a ton of money from tax revenue, fees, permits and the like.

The Kennedy public hearing room at city hall was pretty full with reporters, city employees, aging hippies and young activists. People signed up beforehand to speak either in favor or against the ordinance (known as Board Bill #328), though one guy did sign up as "mixed feelings."

One speaker, Aaron Williams, spoke about the importance of recycling and waste management, which is surely a major concern at any big outdoor event. The bill gives Summer Rocks 60 days after the end of the festival to get everything back to normal, which, as one alderman pointed out, is not a crazy amount of time to replant a tree, but is unacceptable in terms of trash cleanup.

Williams also brought plastic cups (the kind you get at a bar or event and probably have a ton of at home right now) to demonstrate his point, but we weren't sure if he was saying they were a waste because they were plastic or they were good because they were reusable. Anyway, we should recycle. A young woman who lives downtown also spoke against the bill because of its lack of deference to the local community. "It's forbidding Lollapaloozas-to-be," she said.

Then came Kociela. For all the talk about Taste of St. Louis' move being unrelated, Kociela's statement blew that out of the water.

"We shouldn't write a law that gives someone a special advantage over local businesses that are playing by the rules. This ordinance is jeopardizing existing, grassroots, local festivals that support the city's cultural history," he told the board. "How is any business supposed to compete when people of influence can dictate legislation that eliminates competition for their own profits? This sets a bad precedent that will discourage businesses like my own from operating in the city."

Kociela was applauded by the audience after his three-minute appeal. Others against Summer Rocks included a representative of the Regional Arts Commission and members of the local blues community.

Pro? Why, someone speaking on behalf of IMC. Imagine that! The board of aldermen still hasn't made a decision though -- the vote was pushed to next week, and it seems there will be additional amendments to the 64-page contact.

Kociela didn't stay to hear speakers who were for Summer Rocks, so we ran after him and asked why he already moved Taste of St. Louis and his other event, Bluesweek, if Summer Rocks wasn't even approved. If it was, it wouldn't start until 2015 anyway.

"Let's just say the writing was on the wall," Kociela told us.

Taste of St. Louis and Bluesweek will take place this year at the Chesterfield Amphitheater on September 19 through 21 and May 24 and 25, respectively. The board of aldermen will vote on Board Bill #328 next week; the earliest it could go to Mayor Slay is April 14.

You can check out our live coverage of the meeting here.



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30 comments
jayking0071
jayking0071

Mike Kociela is lying to save his reputation. He chose to move Taste of St. Louis long before this was an issue. He chose his own profit margin over the people of St. Louis. He moved the festival that once welcomed minorities, to a place the public transit doesn't go. Very convenient.

egolterman
egolterman topcommenter

Of course he was pushed out as were  Blues Fest and Strassenfest at least twice.

The stupid media was fooled by the 'sequence' of the announcements, telling us the 

monster festival from hell was filling a 'gap'. The stupidity of the media leaves the people

vulnerable to crap like this, with no protection. While the no-compete issue is still not clear, this is simply the wrong location. The damage to an 8 square blocks area west of Tucker twice a year for 20 years will be substantial. The promoters promise to 'repair and clean up/?? L.A. promoters care about St. louis' historic civic center? Wrong place..

Lyla Turner
Lyla Turner

don't the officials know about the "270 loop" sin. never pass the line.

Lyla Turner
Lyla Turner

probably redundant with this comment, but all the best restaurants are in the city. this decision hurts the revitalization of the city, our most important draw is our food. I won't be going, for sure

Maggie Gross
Maggie Gross

So saddened by this!! The county especially Chesterfield does not have the same "culture" as the city. Wished they could have relocated to another part within city limits. I live in the city & enjoy The Lou's environment much better than the county.. I will not be attending while its in Chesterfield. And I do believe we only know part of this story.....but always follow where the $$$ goes. :-(

Colleen Autry
Colleen Autry

This IS bullshit and Mike Kociela is full of it. Read the bill people! He is just trying to capitalize on the bad press of this bill. Taste is not on Labor Day, it's the last cardinals home game of the season. The event "Taste of St. Louis" is owned by two people- Mike Kociela & Kay Sonderegger. They are trying to blame everything & anyone in the city for their lack of funding. Why do they have to move to Chesterfield to charge money when they could have done so in the city- where there is public transport, more space, more people! They sold out to Budweiser last year but lost their sponsorship, and this is just another step towards lining their pockets, there is no concern about our city's culture or "Regional" events. I hope restaurateurs will see through the BS and not support the event because they are what makes Taste successful & deserve respect, not having to fight for a place amongst national chains. Bluesweek is heart wrenching- as the musicians spotlight keeps being manipulated by greed. Why would a producer, tied to the Blues museum which is downtown, move the festival out to the county? Why leave the place the music began? Greed! If you pay attention the writing on the wall Taste had already sold out pre 328.

Krysta Busekrus
Krysta Busekrus

Guh. Read about the festival- one day of country, one day of rock (2 days of top 40, corporately packaged fun!)

aaronwilliams
aaronwilliams

My first point was the bill lacked any mention of environmental stewardship. I wanted this California-headquartered company to be held to the green standards for operating an event in our city as they would for having it in theirs. On short notice, I provided a list of states and other major cities that all required by law event operators to reduce, recycle and divert event-generated waste from landfills. Having studied event waste in the region for more than six years, I noted that the leading event waste generated was beverage containers. I brought the sturdy but inexpensive cups that are in everyone's cupboard to show that these reusable cups do not need to be recycled or sent to a landfill and do not clutter up City trash receptacles surrounding the event perimeter and involve no energy at taxpayer expense to remove them from the event site or city trash cans.

With estimated crowds of 300,000 attendees consuming two beverage purchase at each event during the 20 years involved with this bill for just these two weekend events alone, 24,000,000 cups would need to be hauled away...to a landfill or to a recycling or compost center...or dumped on your street or River or front lawn. A cup reuse policy, which was used at the World Cup event in South Africa,will reduce this waste issue by at least 75%.

As the first speaker and being told when I walked to microphone that I only had three minutes to speak, this comment on your blog is what I wanted to share with clarity. Also provided to legislators were bill wording examples noting mandatory event recycling from San Francisco, Boulder and Minneapolis.

Eric Seelig
Eric Seelig

I figure that the noncompete clause probably must cover the entire City of St. Louis. Right?

Nancy Williams
Nancy Williams

I am against Board Bill 328. I contacted my alderman and let him know.

Jennifer Keenan
Jennifer Keenan

Taste of St. Louis or Taste of Chesterfield?!?! Not the same, not going. Not going to the concert either. Bluesfest was the only good downtown concert in awhile & that's moving to! Wth! I'm Boycotting & if it's the city's fees that is causing this....they need to back down!

shan12stones
shan12stones

who cares boring.i'd rather there be more rock concerts in stl   

Nathan Kromat
Nathan Kromat

Wait... how does someone own "the taste of st louis"?

Mark Swain
Mark Swain

There is so much policitcal bullshit going on all the time. The county has absolutely nothing cultural to offer anyone. If you want culture, you come to the city. Always has been always will be.

schicchi
schicchi

On the one hand, the non-compete is kind of a bummer for the reasons stated in the article. On the other hand, St. Louis (the community, not just the government) probably needs that money more than they need an expensive restaurant festival or a festival for a type of music propped up almost exclusively by grey-haired white dudes on KDHX who play up their accent for radio.

Daniel Puricelli
Daniel Puricelli

Taste of Chesterfield. Tastes like tobacco. Smells like bullshit.

Jason Charney
Jason Charney

Why didn't he say that BEFORE he decided to move the event to Chesterfield? At any rate this 20-year Non-Compete deal is wrong on so many levels. Why are we doing a "Summer Rocks" tour with people who want to make it a Country Music event WHO DON'T KNOW ANY COUNTRY MUSIC ACTS! Who came up with this awful Ideal? Lyle Lanley? Are we going to buy this Monorail nonsense? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZBPoRwog00

Wes Slocum
Wes Slocum

STL is gonna do what brings in more money pal, sorry to tell ya, but it's all about the revenue

Kevin Griffin
Kevin Griffin

Sold out by the city. Believe it! Thanks a lot St Louis.

Zac Nevill
Zac Nevill

Chesterfield sucks so bad for stuff like this!!!!!

Bridget Scott
Bridget Scott

move Taste of Clayton to Chesterfield. The Taste of St. Louis belong in downtown St. Louis. For anyone who do not want to participate in any activities thats located in the city of St. Louis stay home.

Daniel Puricelli
Daniel Puricelli

The deal would pay for that nice park they decided to build. You know, the one they decided to start demo on just before Snowmageddon. But I think you're right, he's full of shit.

Jesse Rehmer
Jesse Rehmer

Thank you for putting this out there... I think most of us knew this was the reason, but it feels good to finally see it in print.

dcsart97
dcsart97

Not true, Mark. Opera Theater, The Rep, Art & Air are in the county. The Artist's Guild is moving to Webster Groves, as well. You may find more events in the city, but you can't say we have nothing cultural to offer.

egolterman
egolterman topcommenter

@schicchi
St.Louis doenst need 'dirty' money. it needs to collect the ticket tax revenue

from the Cardinals, Blues and the Fox Theater and other powerful producers of enterainment who keep it. It is about $30 million a year. Then it could tell these bums to go back to L.A.

jayking0071
jayking0071

Not true. It was already moved. But, good riddens to it anyway, the city can do better.

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