Jacksonville, FL - Although Jacksonville’s City Council hopes they’ve created a solution for the noise complaints centered around events at Met Park, concert promoters are concerned the only thing that’s been created is a barrier to success.
“We’re getting there, we’re not there yet,” says Mike Yokan, a co-promoter for “The Big Ticket” and “Welcome to Rockville”, which are concerts held at Met Park.
Yokan has been working with the city since an ad hoc committee was first formed to look in to the complaints coming in. Since the early drafts of changes the city wanted to put in place, Yokan says there has been a lot of progress, and he’s hopeful there will be some more changes made before Tuesday night’s vote.
His main concern right now is the decibel cap put in place under this bill. Noise complaints from across the river, in neighborhoods like St. Nicholas, initially caused the city to begin this review. Yokan says the cap in this bill, however, is “unworkable” and not something that will be accepted by big name bands.
“The ordinance as it stands right now, no, we’re not comfortable. We bring people to Jacksonville literally from all over the country and all over the world to attend our festivals. We get national press for this city, we love this city, we want to keep bringing people here, but the bill needs some tweaks,” he says.
One “tweak” so far deals with the potential penalties associated with continued violation of the noise limits. As the bill was drafted, the first time a concert went over the noise limit a designated point of contact would receive a warning. The second violation resulted in a $1,000; the third, fourth and fifth violations cost $3,000 each; and after five violations, the city had the right to pull the plug on the concert.
“It could have had dangerous ramifications,” Yokan says.
There was a concern shutting a concert down early could have led to riots or other dangerous behavior in the crowd. Additionally, it could have made promoters or even the city liable for a financial loss. Yokan says one of the City Council committees has adopted an amended version of the bill which does not include the “pull the plug” provision.
If the city had been allowed to stop a concert, Yokan says that would have been a deal breaker for some of the bigger acts.
“If it’s not an ordinance we feel we can live with, we’ll look for other venues,” he says.
In addition to ticket sales, these concerts bring in multiple revenue streams for the city. WOKV obtained documents that show parking alone at “Welcome to Rockville” earlier this year brought in around $70,000. There are other indirect benefits, like the stage hands, security, maintenance workers and other personnel hired locally for the events. Some of the concerts also sell out downtown hotels. Yokan says there is really no good alternate to Met Park in Jacksonville, so too many restrictions would move the concerts, and associated revenue, outside of the city.
He says one of the important parts of this bill is that this is a set of temporary restrictions which expire September 2014. At that point, all the players will return to the table and figure out what worked and what didn’t on the road to a more permanent solution. During the time these restrictions are in place, Yokan says there will also be more sound studies conducted in Met Park and other venues like EverBank Field. He hopes that the city ultimately crafts a long term solution that doesn’t target Met Park for more restrictions than other venues used for the same purpose.