ACL Fest ticket sales to help new Zilker Park train get up and running

Zilker Eagle (Courtesy Austin Parks Foundation)

Zilker Eagle (Courtesy Austin Parks Foundation)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The new Zilker train is set to chug along the tracks mid-November all thanks, in part, to ticket sales from Austin City Limits Music Festival.

The Austin Parks Foundation told KXAN C3 Presents, the company that puts on ACL Fest, will again donate to the nonprofit once ACL has wrapped up. This year that money will be focused on rejuvenating, maintaining and operating the new train the “Zilker Eagle,” as well as upgrades to school and community parks.

Zilker Eagle Train rendering (Courtesy Austin Parks Foundation)
Zilker Eagle Train rendering (Courtesy Austin Parks Foundation)

This money is crucial for the nonprofit, especially after a tough 2020. Austin Parks Foundation, like so many others, experienced tremendous loss after making staff cuts and closing its headquarters.

“It was devastating,” said Alison Watkins, chief strategy officer with Austin Parks Foundation. ACL, she says, keeps their “underfunded nonprofit” afloat. “Parks are the last thing the city funds,” said Watkins. 

Right now, the train is being manufactured in Arizona, but the tracks have already been laid down at Zilker Park.

The route will look a little different after a big rainstorm washed out the tracks belonging to the “Zilker Zephyr” in 2019. It was owned by a family, and that family could no longer cover the cost of repairs. To avoid erosion, the tracks’ course is rerouted in parts of the park and is no longer as close to the lake.  

In 2019, C3 Presents offered Austin Parks Foundation close to $6 million after a successful ACL.

“It’s always a good sign when it’s sold out,” said Watkins. Money from the donation can be awarded to anyone who has applied for grants for their neighborhood or school parks.

“It is about all of Austin parks benefitting from the festival,” Watkins said.

Moreover, with Austin’s rapid growth, Watkins says this type of money will help with developing “new parks and the wear and tear on our green spaces.”

  • Learn more about how to apply for a grant online here
  • Learn more about which projects have benefited in the past online here.

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