Two people died and 57 more were hospitalized at Sunset Music Festival, which took place last weekend at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay.
Local news reports that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn spoke out against the SFX-owned festival earlier this week. “These type of festivals attract these type of drugs use and these types of drugs,” he noted. “You combine that with the heat in the stadium, it really made a perfect storm of bad things to happen,” he continued. “Clearly that’s an event that we as a community need to reconsider… The Sports Authority needs to look at whether or not that’s an appropriate event for this community to host.”
In addition, Buckhorn and the Tampa Fire Chief, Tom Forward, also expressed concern that the festival overwhelmed the city’s emergency response capabilities. “These guys [Tampa Fire Rescue] was running wheels off trucks trying to get people to St. Joe’s,” Buckhorn said. “It really, really exhausted are resources,” added Forward.
Festival organizers released the following statement after the news of the deaths broke: “The health, safety and welfare of our fans and community is Sunset Music Festival’s first priority and we take every measure to create a safe environment at our events. Any loss of life is a tragedy and we extend our deepest heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those affected. Due to the ongoing investigation by the medical examiner’s office, Sunset will not issue additional comments at this time.”
Billboard reached out to Sunset Music Festival’s representatives for further comment, but had not heard back at time of publication.
The Sports Authority, which runs the stadium, addressed Buckhorn’s concerns obliquely in a statement about the weekend’s events. “First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by this tragedy during this difficult time,” the statement read. “Presently, we are working with the event promoter and local officials to obtain more information about these incidents at the Sunset Music Festival. After this information has been obtained and discussed with our partners at the county and the city, we will present the findings to the Tampa Sports Authority Board for review. After that review, we will be able to make a more informed decision as to the Festival’s future at our facility.”