Elgin casino kills July 4 concert, will continue to sponsor fireworks
Elgin's Fourth of July celebration will not include a concert at Festival Park for the first time in five years due to a late decision by Grand Victoria Casino, city officials said.
The casino, which was bought by Eldorado Resorts in August, won't host a concert as it had done in partnership with the city since 2014, but will continue sponsoring the fireworks celebration, city officials said. On Wednesday night, the Elgin City Council approved an agreement with Mad Bombers Fireworks for $40,000 to be reimbursed by the casino. The city expects to spend about $20,000 in staff time and rental materials, about the usual cost over the years.
"I'll just publicly say -- I'm disappointed in the new ownership of the casino. To discontinue this long-term partnership that we've had in this community ..." Councilwoman Tish Powell said. "It makes me wonder what their future intentions are about our community. So I hope that next year will be different."
Casino officials didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
The casino had canceled its summer concert series in 2018 except for the July 4 concert.
Powell asked city staff members if they considered whether the city could sponsor the July 4 concert this year.
Barb Keselica, assistant director of parks and recreation, said the city was only notified "earlier this year" that the casino would not sponsor the concert. City staff members will work on presenting to the council a plan for a large-scale concert as part of 2020 budget deliberations, she said.
"Anything short of that would have been a smaller concert scale, and we don't want to bring in people having a higher expectation, thinking they are getting the product they got last year, when the offering isn't there," Keselica said.
There was also some back-and-forth about when the fireworks display would happen, City Manager Rick Kozal said. The final decision was to begin the show about 9:15 p.m. July 4, as usual along the Fox River near Festival Park.
Councilwoman Rose Martinez said she's glad the casino decided to at least continue sponsoring the fireworks. "Maybe after a while they'll get to know us and put those concerts back," she said.