Burning Man is looking to grow its attendance capacity by nearly 50% in the coming years. Burning Man organizers met with officials from the Bureau of Land Management to talk about the festival, how it is impacted the local area and its potential plan to expand. During these meetings, local leaders have expressed their concerns about how the growth may negatively impact their communities.
The event is currently capped at 68,000 attendees, which balloons to around 80,000 when you factor in government officials, vendors and volunteers. Event organizers are asking for their cap to be hiked up to 80,000 at least, with their eyes on 100,000. This would be gradual and happen over several years.
Locals expressed some concerns that the festival at its current size is already difficult to handle and more people coming would be an issue. They have complaints over trash and traffic, in addition to the stress on the local water supply and local resources such as police and courts that are used for Burning Man.
"There’s a lack of benefit for the community in Pershing County. While (Burning Man organizers) noted that they bring $50 million to the state, Pershing County sees not even half of a percent of that," said Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen via USA Today. "Nothing said last night that would benefit Pershing County."
Some Burners have expressed some concerns about the potential growth with the festival changing so rapidly as it has gone mainstream. Tickets now can be sold for $1,000 and sell out every year. The Bureau of Land Management is looking into how the growth might impact the local environment as well.