Water will flow freely at concert

A lack of water at 98 Rockfest prompts a change in rules.

Published May 30, 2007

TAMPA - Fans who flocked to a concert outside Raymond James Stadium on April 29 went there hoping to rock out. Instead, many were knocked out by the sun and left panting when they had to wait hours to get water.

In the wake of a near-disaster, officials with the Tampa Sports Authority, which owns the property, met with promoters and laid down new rules for next year's event.

Among the requirements:

- Patrons will be allowed to bring in sealed water containers.

- There will be more locations for buying water.

- Vendors will accept cash for nonalcoholic beverages instead requiring patrons to buy tickets to redeem.

- First-aid tents will have an adequate supply of water, and a large tent will be added for shelter from the sun.

"This is specifically for the 98 Rockfest," said Mickey Farrell, director of stadium operations. "We're making these adjustments because they plan on coming back again next year."

This was the first year for the festival, hosted by radio station WXRB-FM. The one-day concert replaced Livestock, a three-day festival in a Pasco County pasture.

As the temperature rose to nearly 90 and the sun beat down, promoters Clear Channel Broadcasting and the Bralco Group of Miami couldn't get water quickly enough to the crowd.

More than 250 people were treated for heat exhaustion, dehydration and alcohol intoxication. Five were taken to hospitals.

"It was a very bad situation," said Ray Steinman, president of the Bralco Group.

He blamed the problem on a convergence of circumstances. Concertgoers arrived early and more than 20 employees failed to show up for work that day.

"We were short-staffed, so our distribution lines got clogged," Steinman said. "We had enough water, we just didn't have a way to get it out to everybody."

Eventually, promoters brought in a truck loaded with 12,000 bottles of water and gave it out free.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or 813 226-3401.