On its face, the plan to bring a major electronic dance music festival to Chicagoland seemed like a win-win situation for the city of Joliet. The concert is expected to create a new use for the Chicagoland Speedway, bring a new visitor demographic to the city, and pump dollars into Joliet's gas stations, hotels and grocery stores.
The three-day Electric Daisy Carnival is set to begin Friday and the promoter hopes to attract up to 30,000 people a day. The event has attracted tens of thousands of fans in New York City and Las Vegas.
But the road to EDC, as the traveling concert is called, has left a paper trail.
A look at private and government studies done on electronic dance music festivals, including events thrown by Insomniac, the company behind the Electric Daisy Carnival, turned up some troubling findings.
A 2010 report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked one death and 18 hospitalizations -- all associated with the use of MDMA, or ecstasy -- to a New Year's concert co-produced by Pasquale Rotella, the Insomniac CEO.
Meanwhile, studies commissioned by Insomniac touting the economic impact of its concerts raised questions for a University of Chicago economist, who calculated that the promoter could only have created the number of jobs it claimed if they were menial, low paying work. His guess: the workers were picking up trash and parking cars.
We got a big assist on this research from The Los Angeles Times, which is all-too-familiar with the Electric Daisy Carnival and similar events, since they have been held on the west coast for more than a decade.
Back in February, reporters Rong-Gong Lin II, Paul Pringle and Andrew Blankstein reviewed records from 64 electronic dance music concerts and found 14 drug-related deaths, along with many other emergencies and arrests.
Their investigation, along with the documents we analyzed, allowed us to add some relevant -- and sobering -- facts to our coverage of the upcoming festival.
-- Heather Gillers