AUSTIN — If you’re a large and powerful corporate event in Texas’ capital city, local officials may give you special treatment and perks.

But if you’re a local mom-and-pop event, stay home.

Texas Scorecard has released a new video spotlighting that Austin city officials are continuing to play games with their convoluted and arbitrary COVID rules and permits—and hurting local citizens as a result.

Unelected city bureaucrats recently allowed sprawling corporate-backed events such as the Austin City Limits music festival and Austin FC soccer games to continue; but they canceled smaller local gatherings such as Bat Fest and Pecan Street Fest just days before the event.

“While Austin bureaucrats are willing to cancel smaller festivals for COVID concerns, these unelected officials are willing to change the rules when large corporations are involved,” said Ariana Silva of Texas Scorecard.

For example, Austin City Limits, a two-weekend live music festival with more than 100 performers and hundreds of thousands of attendees, was approved by city officials, but the local Bat Fest—a celebration festival of the resident Congress Avenue bats that fly downtown in the summer evenings—was not.

“It is with utter shock and great disappointment that we must announce that we were notified via email at 4:57 pm by the City of Austin (COA) Special Events Program Manager-Austin Center for Events, that our special event permit was denied for this Saturday’s Bat Fest,” wrote event host Roadway Productions.

All indications from the City of Austin were that we had all of our ducks in a row as we have had for the other 15 previous years for this event. Now at the 11th hour we have been denied our permit and forced to cancel … In this case, our livelihood was taken away with a single permit denial just shy of 72 hours prior to the event, a permit we filed for two years ago.

“I guess the City just gets to pick and choose who they ruin financially,” the business separately added.

Roadway Productions also called out the city officials’ hypocrisy.

“This weekend in Austin 20,500 soccer fans are expected to fill Q2 stadium to watch Austin FC … We are glad those events are taking place and we feel that we should have had the chance to go on with ours. It’s unfair to punish small mom and pop businesses like us. It is NOT OKAY.”

Meanwhile, Austin City Limits will continue this weekend.

This is hardly the first time city officials have given ACL and Austin FC preferential treatment. ACL’s parent company, the Saudi-financed entertainment company C3 Presents, routinely receives sweetheart deals on their use of a public park (for multiple months) for the festival. (In 2014, they paid under $100,000 and grossed $38 million.) Meanwhile, city officials gave Austin FC the land for their stadium for free.

Concerned citizens may contact their city council member.


Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.