Jeramey Jannene

Jazz in the Park To Ban Carry-Ins

By - Jan 15th, 2009 03:06 pm
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In a stunning announcement today, OMC reports that Jazz in the Park will no longer allow carry-ins of alcohol.  The event which is run by East Town Association at Cathedral Square Park is a popular event for a large number of Milwaukeeans every Thursday night from June until the end of September.  The article states that the Milwaukee Police Department and a Wisconsin law are the reasons for the shut down.  We’re wondering if the changes are related to finances and not the law.

The event is free to attend and has an interesting revenue model.  As I have been led to believe by a board member, Bastille Days the French heritage festival held annually in July actually generates a substantial amount of the revenue that allows Jazz in the Park to operate.  Furthermore, and I last discussed this issue in 2006, there was looming concerns that the rainy day fund accumulated by the East Town Association was running low.  I don’t know whether any of that is still true at this point, but let’s assume it is for the sake of debate.

How do you raise revenues?  One option may be standing by and accepting the no carry-ins ruling that has been placed upon you by the Milwaukee Police Department and selling more alcohol on the premises to a crowd that is reduced in size.

Another option for East Town may be to charge admission  to the event.  Could East Town also sell reserved spaces for the event (my group puts our blanket out at noon)?

What about a mix of value-added services included valet parking, a reserved space on the grass, and a food and drink package?

How about not allowing carry-ins, but allowing all businesses with liquor licenses within distance X (say 2 miles) to sell alcohol on the premises (helping Metro Market and upstart Blatz Liquor significantly, along with Taylors and company)?

Is there a way to generate more parking revenue?  MSOE currently sells parking to benefit their athletics program.

What would you do?  We would love if it you would post a comment with your idea(s).  Also feel free to email your alderman to share your idea or just to lend your support for Jazz in the Park as it has been in years past.

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16 thoughts on “Jazz in the Park To Ban Carry-Ins”

  1. KeVroN says:

    Why do you and your compatriots here at UM come up with sustainable ideas and well thought options. I expect more of a knee jerk reaction this kind of news. At least twitter will stay reactionary and unintelligent for the foreseeable future.

  2. Derek says:

    There have been complaints of bars over serving during festivals (particularly Bastille Days) that there has been some calls for Bauman to stop issuing temporary extension of premises permits. Does the Jazz in the Park crowd get that out of hand? My guess is no, but after the events of Riversplash, I would expect more curtailing of outdoor drinking.

  3. Meghan says:

    Living a block away since August of 2007, I’ve never seen or heard any problems. This comes as a huge shock and disappointment to me and will be a real blow to Milwaukee’s “cool factor.” I hope that community voices can get them to consider other revenue options first.

  4. Eli says:

    What about a geekier solution and start selling digital downloads of the concerts to help generate some revenue? I rarely have the opportunity to get down there to see the live shows, but I would buy a recording for $1.99 or $10 for the whole season on iTunes or Amazon. You could even hand out $1/off coupons for people who are at the show to encourage them to download a copy of the show they just enjoyed. Not only would it be a nice way to raise some funds, but it would also help spread awareness of these kinds of unique cultural events in Milwaukee. It’s hard to estimate the amount of revenue this would bring in though, vs. alcohol sales. The margins are great, so it would really depend on sales volume.

  5. Jeremy M. says:

    Jeramey, your “value-added” ideas (valet parking, food/drink packages, reserved spaces) idea are very strong.

    However, I have to immediately say that any fees charged to attend, and also their new “no carry-in” policy will prevent negative results for attendance. Making your own little picnic with friends/lovers/families is a major experience, which drives people to these events. Honestly, different groups of people from around Milwaukee County gather leisurely together with bright spirits, cheeses, wines, and other various knick-knacks to enjoy the company of other inidivuduals, familiar and unfamiliar (after the first Jazz in the Park, all regulars become familiars), while enjoying the Jazz. Jazz is only the initial attraction, but it is the experience that is the true service to the Milwaukee community.

    Now, the ETA may have agitated that experience. This is going to require hiring more security and police to patrol Jazz In the Park more attentively, and taking their focus off of looking for potential danger, and simply put it on targeting those who are bringing in beverages and foods of their own (which is practically everyone). Whether the upper-class professionals of downtown Milwaukee or the blue-collar middle and lower class families of Milwaukee, no one is going to receive the news upon their arrival to Jazz In the Park, well. Sure, it is not a massive “Setback”, but after struggling with finding a place to park, fighting through rush hour traffic, a long day at work or school, and just all the everyday 9-5 hassles no one is going to like having to be sent back to their vehicles or places to put their things because they suddenly can’t enter the park.

    Honestly, that’s one of the qualities of Jazz in the Park. As an avid goer, Thursdays are my new Friday during the Summer, because Jazz in the Park is the most relaxing and entertaining time for me. 530 to 9pm, I’m in my favorite location of downtown, with friends, maybe a date, with some wine, some cheese, listening to great music, dancing, and laughing.

    Now, must I have to go there, stand-in long lines and pay for things within the festival that I could have provided my own self, encompassing my own tastes, that I can share inexpensively with anyone at the park for as long as the volume of my gifts allows? That will ruin a precious part of the Jazz in the Park experience.

    But, policy or no policy, I will continue to go. But, I can not say that I will be loyal to the policy, and I will rue the day I stand in a long line for a limited optional variety food and beverages that I may have not even had the tastes for. Meanwhile, friends, patrons, fend for yourself if you want to setup a little picnic spot on the park on Thursdays. (Please, ETA, change the policy).
    Sincerely,

    Old Chicagoian, New Milwaukian Jay

  6. Michael says:

    This will be the end of Jazz… although Jazz really has been shit since they started taking up most of the side with corporate tents.

  7. MilwaukeeD says:

    This does appear to be a bad move. However, after sleeping on it, if they do sell bottles of wine for under $10 and 6-packs in the $7-range, it may not be too bad. It’s a shame for places like the Blatz Cave though, who were probably counting on JintheP revenue.

    If they are simply trying to control things, that’s one thing. But if I see that they are trying to use a heavy mark-up to increase revenues, I will no longer attend. Plus, they had better have enough people serving so that you don’t have to wait in line….the limited number of restrooms is already bad enough.

    So many people from outlying areas, suburbs, etc. would come to Jazz in the Park and leave with a good impression of Downtown Milwaukee. It doesn’t seem like a good idea to be messing with such a successful formula. It was also one of the few places where Milwaukeeans of all races, ages and income levels could gather and have a good time. I hope that doesn’t change because that was probably the most remarkable thing about it.

  8. Dan Voell says:

    Did they say you can’t bring your own wine? (pardon the pun) I wonder how many of the average attendees have any interest in Jazz ? I agree with more forms of reserved space. You are all cordially invited to the East Side for http://www.lakeparkfriends.org/music.shtml .

  9. Ellen says:

    It has been my experience that Ald Bob Bauman doesn’t give one whit about “businesses” in downtown Milwaukee. He claims to only be an advocate for the residents. I doubt that he will be at all sympathetic to the legal plights of Jazz in the Park. Remember how hard he rallied to not allow the Bodeans to do their 45-minute concert on the rooftop of the Pabst? I don’t have confidence that he will do or say anything to help the no-carry in policy. In fact, I’d suspect he’s 100% in support of it. I would suspect that this is indeed financially motivated, since the law prohibiting open intoxicants has been universally ignored for the better part of 19 years. No other festivals in Downtown have been affected, yet, nor have we heard of any attempts by the East Town association to fight this “new” policy. The festival has been overcrowded for years and this might even be a good thing. It might not be bad to thin out the crowd and allow people to actually enjoy the live music that very often gets ignored by the overindulging audience. Every cloud has a silver lining.

  10. MilwaukeeD says:

    Just to be fair, Jazz in the Park isn’t the first festival to start to enforce this rule. The East Side BID on North Avenue began enforcing it this year at Summer Soulstice…forcing everyone to buy drinks from their vendors. I expect to see this spread to all other street festivals, particularily Riversplash. Thus, making them all much less fun and possibly not worth attending.

  11. Dave Reid says:

    MilwaukeeD yea most festivals you can’t carry in, but we all know that is why Jazz was so great. Also most festivals are street festivals whereas Jazz really is more of a gathering so it makes sense to bring your own.

  12. James Guido says:

    At least doobies are still allowed…. whew.

  13. Jesse says:

    The most annoying part is the city will take all the blame for this. It’s a state law, call your state representative or the governor if you want to see this changed.

  14. anonymous says:

    Yeah, okay. It’s a state law. Great. So if the State cops want to police Jazz in the Park, they’re free to do so.

    Try not to be such a damn lemming.

  15. Jesse says:

    I like you anonymous, you don’t care about the facts, you just want to bitch and moan about something. Didn’t I see you posting on Craigslist?

  16. anonymous says:

    on Craigslist?!

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