First-ever rain cancellation at 1-800-Ask Gary Amphitheatre aborts Jonas Brothers concert
TAMPA -- Sara Novak was so broken up, she could barely talk.
Tears streaming down her face, the 9-year-old waited nearly two hours at the 1-800-Ask Gary Amphitheater to see her musical heroes, The Jonas Brothers, only to learn that flooding caused by torrential rains had caused the band to cancel their show. According to venue officials, it was the first time a show had been cancelled there due to weather, but flooding of the orchestra seating area prompted organizers to conclude conditions had become unsafe.
About 14,000 tickets were sold for the show, which will not be rescheduled. Novak and her grandfather Eric Kruger were among those who stood outside the venue's gates for their entire wait, along with thousands of fans, after officials closed admittance to much of the crowd due to the flooding.
"They said it would be 15 or 20 minutes," said Kruger, 60, of Cape Coral. "Then after two hours, they just tell us to go home." (photo by Times photographer Willie Allen)
Taylor Bell, 15, of Valrico, had been to nine other Jonas Brothers concerts before this one, and was looking forward to enjoying the show from her fifth row seats. Brought to the concert by a family friend, she sat inside the venue while the adults were stuck outside, communicating with them by text message.
"I know they had technical difficulties, but they could have communicated better what was going on," said Patrick Tryon, 46, of Valrico, who brought Bell, a friend of hers, his wife and two other children to the show.
Workers at the venue weren't able to provide much information, as technicians struggled to handle flooding in the orchestra seats and backstage after torrential rains raked the area just before the 7 p.m. showtime. Though some limited amounts of people had been admitted to the site before rains drenched the area, staffers stopped admitting concertgoers before the scheduled start time, creating a massive pile up of fans in front of the venue gates.
The boys' father Kevin Jonas came out after 7 p.m. to assure the crowd that they were trying to deal with the flooding. Though the appearance brought screams of approval, the crowd stuck outside began chanting "let us in," drowning the administrative office's phones with calls to find out whatwas happening.
One father called, concerned that his daughter and her boyfriend was inside the venue and he was stuck outside. Another mother called, wondering how to track down kids she'd dropped off at the venue. Behind the scenes, workers traded rumors that a cancellation decision was coming shortly; the bad news came for fans still inside the venue around 8:30 p.m.
Concert promoter Live Nation quickly issued a short press release: "Due to flash flooding in the Tampa area resulting in unsafe concert conditions at the venue, tonight's Jonas Brothers' concert at 1-800-Ask Gary Amphitheatre has been cancelled. Refunds will be available at point of purchase starting tomorrow morning."