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Hip-hop and gone: WildSplash concert to pull out

City officials won't miss the raucous behavior at Coachman Park.

By MIKE DONILA, Times Staff Writer
Published January 9, 2008

"I'm not sorry to see that go," Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard says of WildSplash at Coachman Park, shown in 2003.
[Times (2003)]

Once again, Clearwater is losing an annual - and controversial - concert to Tampa.

This time, WildSplash, the popular, daylong hip-hop event, is leaving the Coachman Park waterfront for the Ford Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds, where promoters feel they can bring in larger crowds and make more money, Clearwater officials said.

WildSplash is following the Next Big Thing, the hard-rocking concert that in late 2006 made the same move for similar reasons.

Last year's WildSplash, an all-ages mix of hip-hop, reggae and dance music, featured Young Jeezy, an Atlanta rapper who openly makes reference to his early days in the drug trade.

In the past, Bubba Sparxxx and Dem Franchize Boyz have also played.

Clearwater city spokeswoman Joelle Castelli said she believes the concert will be held some time in March, but so far it has not been promoted on the Web sites of the sponsor or the amphitheater. Representatives of WLLD-FM 98.7 which hosts the event, did not return calls seeking comment.

While the concert drew bigcrowds, some city officials were upset with the foul language they heard and the brief nudity they saw, mostly from audience members. Raucous behavior also was an issue with the Next Big Thing.

"I always had a problem with some of the impact of the concert, because of some of the incidents that occurred, so I'm not sorry to see that go," Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard said. "We want to have diversity in our entertainment, but at the same time we don't want the negative impact it brought. I'm not going to lose any sleep over it."

WildSplash packed Coachman Park with up to 12,500 people. But the larger Ford Amphitheatre, near U.S. 301 and Interstate 4, can hold about another 7,000.

The city's parks and recreation director, Kevin Dunbar, said the event typically generated about $50,000 for the city's coffers from concessions and a portion of ticket sales.

"They maxed out at Coachman and they wanted to make it bigger," Dunbar said. "It wasn't our choice, but it was amicable."

BY the numbers 

12,500 The number of people who packed Coachman Park for WildSplash. The Ford Amphitheatre can hold another 7,000.

$50,000 How much revenue WildSplash generated for the city in concessions and a portion of ticket sales.

[Last modified January 8, 2008, 21:30:05]

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