TAMPA — The Tampa Sports Authority board voted unanimously Monday to continue hosting the popular Sunset Music Festival as long as event organizers agree to a list of enhancements aimed at keeping concert goers safe.
The special meeting was called after two people died of accidental drug overdoses on the last day of this year's festival, which falls over Memorial Day weekend.
Some officials, including Mayor Bob Buckhorn, questioned if any changes needed to be made to make SMF safer, or if the event should continue in the city at all.
Members of the Tampa Sports Authority discussing the event’s future Monday afternoon noted the Sunset Music Festival has a big economic and cultural impact, typically drawing in 52,000 people over the weekend.
The TSA board says they’d like the event to continue as long as event organizers agree to a list of safety enhancements including more water, bigger cooling stations and additional drug-sniffing dogs, along with more law enforcement officers.
Representatives from the TSA say they will be looking to other music festivals around the country to see what works well there and may require additional safety enhancements based on what they find.
They called the deaths from this year tragic but say with everything event organizers do to keep the crowds safe, concert goers ultimately need to have some responsibility for their own safety when it comes to illegal drug use.