I need a place to park — for 25,000 people

BRIDGE-COURTHOUSE_5678When 25,000 fans of Mumford and Sons converge downtown in St Augustine for the Gentlemen of the Road tour stop September 13-14, an estimated 15,000 parking spaces will be needed in a town that has notoriously limited available parking.

Less than 10% of the total parking requirement for the sold-out concert, not quite 1,200 parking spaces, are available at the Historic Downtown Parking Facility at the St Augustine and St Johns County Visitor’s Information Center; however, according to the terms of an agreement with the event promoter, the parking garage is part of the “main festival footprint”, and is therefore part of the property being rented from the city for $300 per day.

“The city will secure the necessary permissions for access to gym, parking lots, and other facilities within the festival footprint,” according to the January 31 Gentlemen of the Road 2013 Agreement with AC Entertainment, Inc. “This also includes the securing of the Visitor Center Parking Garage primarily for Gentlemen of the Road patrons on the Friday and Saturday of the event.”

The City has allowed ramp-up and tear-down days; which extend the need for special large trucks, buses, and equipment from Monday, September 9th until Tuesday, September 17th. The entire “festival footprint” occupies the core event at Francis Field, the adjacent Ketterlinus gymnasium, tennis courts, basketball courts, St Johns County school parking lots, and public playground.

The agreement also includes use of West Castillo Drive, Riberia Street, Orange Street, and Cordova Street as well as the parking garage, specifically, as part of the main festival footprint. The event promoter indicates that they “will also look to utilize other venues throughout St Augustine including but not limited to the Visitors Center, Saint Augustine Amphitheater and more.”

For potentially eight or nine days, the entire block from Orange Street to West Castillo Drive, from Ponce de Leon Boulevard east to San Marco Avenue will be parking nightmare for city residents and downtown employees, as well as other visiting tourists — don’t even think about driving in the area on the concert weekend.

In addition to a squad of private security officers, on performance days, AC Entertainment estimates needing 20 uniformed officers. The promoter has agreed to pay for the overtime to hire uniformed police officers “for their services on the event grounds, not for additional officers needed in the city”. According to public information officer Mark Samson, Sergeant Brian Frasca has already put out a call to other law enforcement agencies that may be able to provide backup. The city only employs a total of about 50 or 52 sworn, certified police officers — including plain-clothes detectives, Samson told Historic City News.

Likewise AC Entertainment has agreed to pay for emergency medical services “on the event grounds, not for any additional brought in for the rest of the city or fire watch”. Based on a 25,000 person event, they estimate needing 4 paramedics, 4 emergency medical technicians and 4 ambulances. The City of St Augustine does not provide ambulance services. St Johns County Fire Rescue, or emergency personnel from another out-of-town agency, would have to provide those resources.

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