'Oldchella' set to be a boon of at least $250 million to Coachella Valley

Coachella organizers announce new megafest
Coachella organizers announce new megafest

Desert Trip — a new California music festival from Coachella organizer Goldenvoice — is being called the classic rock concert of the century because of the rock legends performing at the two-week extravaganza.

Less remarked upon, however, is the massive economic Coachella Valley gets from the happening.

Over the course of the next two weekends, an estimated 150,000 visitors will travel to the region, spending nearly half a billion dollars once the final curtain falls.

Dubbed "Oldchella" because it's aimed at an older audience than Coachella's younger crowd, the festival features performances from acts including Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Neil Young and The Who. The event at the Empire Polo Club in Indio sold out in just five hours after organizers added a second weekend of shows due to "overwhelming demand." The total box office gross is projected to be around $150 million, with tickets ranging from $199 to $1,599.

Yet according to at least one analysis, the overall boon could far outpace the impact of ticket sales in a region that saw a record $5 billion in tourist spending last year, according to Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau data.

Paul McCartney performing.
Mat Hayward | Getty Images

"We estimate that Desert Trip will have a $250 million economic impact on the economy of the Coachella Valley," said Michael Bracken, managing partner of Development Management Group, which serves as the economist for Goldenvoice. That figure includes spending on local food, travel, labor, equipment rentals and lodging.

When factoring in airline travel and car rentals from outside the Indio region where the festival is taking place, along with the concert tickets themselves, the total economic impact swells to $450 million, Bracken added.

Part of that large spending comes from the luxury accommodations being offered by the festival's organizers. On-site teepees and tents cost $1,600 per weekend, while luxury "safari tent" packages, which include air-conditioned tents with queen-sized beds and an on-site concierge, cost as much as $10,000.

In addition to on-site lodging, more than 100 food vendors will be at the festival, selling everything from pizza to pad Thai. A weekend food package, which includes wine, cocktail and beer tastings, is priced at a wallet-busting $499 per person.

Off-site accommodations are pricey as well. Alex Ahluwalia, general manager of the J.W. Marriott Desert Springs, said he expects "high double-digit growth in revenue" over the festival's two weekends. And the benefit for local hotels doesn't end when the concert does, said Ahluwalia. "The concerts also help build awareness and mystique for the destination," he said.

Indio Mayor Glenn Miller said he's excited about the festival and the long-term benefits it could bring to the region. "As the concert city of the world, this concert just adds to our international flavor."