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Amphitheater silent about flooding, Jonas Brothers cancellation, but, yes, there is a John Mayer concert tonight

TAMPA — Tonight's John Mayer concert is still planned, but promoters at the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre won't talk about events leading to the chaotic cancellation of a Jonas Brothers concert two nights earlier.

Thousands of fans of the pop band catapulted to fame by the Disney Channel waited in the rain Wednesday, but were blocked from the venue after bad flooding prompted officials to cancel the concert more than an hour after it was to start.

On Thursday, the venue's operator, Live Nation, remained tight-lipped about just what had happened, saying only that flash flooding resulted in unsafe conditions at the amphitheater in eastern Hillsborough County.

Live Nation wouldn't say Thursday if the water had been cleared — which on Wednesday night had flooded several rows of seating near the stage.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office officials, who were present at the concert, said the flooding included part of the venue's flooring that covers electrical wiring.

Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debbie Carter said she didn't know if that is the safety issue to which Live Nation was referring.

The Sheriff's Office didn't persuade officials to call off the show, she said — that decision was made by the amphitheater's security company, Sentry Event Services.

Sentry referred questions to amphitheater officials.

The Jonas Brothers concert won't be rescheduled, but ticket-holders can get refunds.

That's not good enough for Kara Atchison, 40, who went to the concert with her two daughters, three sisters and seven other children.

She filed a complaint with the venue Thursday, saying that nobody told fans what was going on, even as they stood outside the gates in the rain.

"It was awful," she said. "It was horrible."

Her group arrived at 6 p.m. and walked through water that was sometimes ankle-deep to get to the gates, where thousands gathered. They waited for about two hours, she said, but nobody updated the crowd.

"I actually called the box office from my cell phone and asked what was going on," Atchison said. "They told me they didn't know."

There were only two portable toilets to serve the crowd filled with children, she said. At times, the lights would come on inside the amphitheater and children would start screaming.

"There were children screaming and crying because they were being pushed or they thought the concert was starting without them," Atchison said.

She and her sisters decided to give up at 8 p.m. because the concert was on a school night. When the announcement came a short while later that the concert was canceled, the crowd went berserk, Atchison said.

An earlier announcement would have made a big difference, she said.

This was the first show in the venue's six-year history that was canceled because of weather.

Concerts have continued through torrential downpours before. A Dave Matthews Band concert in 2007 was held despite driving rain, thunder and lightning.

About 14,000 tickets were sold for the Jonas Brothers show. Concert organizers said people who bought tickets should seek refunds from where they bought the tickets.

John Mayer's concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight.

Times staff writers Sean Daly and Eric Deggans contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Amphitheater silent about flooding, Jonas Brothers cancellation, but, yes, there is a John Mayer concert tonight 09/09/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 10, 2010 11:17am]
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