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Cold news for Heatwave fans


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 17, 2001

Randy Wynne, program director for WMNF-88.5, the sponsor of Tropical Heatwave, says this year may mark the end of a Tampa tradition.

Wynne says the problem is getting space for the music event in redeveloped Ybor City. There is no guarantee, he says, that the station can secure the half dozen or so venues needed for Heatwave next year.

"With the way Ybor is developing and changing so fast, we feel this could be the last time we can do this," Wynne says. He cites the financial problems that will probably lead to the Cuban Club's sale, as well as rumors of hotels being established at other venues long a part of Heatwave.

"It's a shame because Heatwave is more popular than ever," Wynne says. Last year's event drew almost 6,000 people. This year tickets are selling swiftly, though Wynne says the station has reduced the number of available tickets in the interest of safety.

"There were just too many people last year."

Wynne says there is debate at WMNF over whether the station should host Heatwave in a new location, perhaps a park. But after 20 years in Ybor City, Tropical Heatwave would lose its flavor if moved elsewhere. Much of the event's appeal, he says, is that music lovers can stroll from venue to venue, checking out dozens of performers.

"We had 20 great years," Wynne says. "But this may be the end of an era."

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