Reducing Noise At Ford

As this year’s summer season begins in Tampa, Fla., efforts have been made to reduce concert noise levels at the city’s Ford Amphitheatre, but neighbors still await a noise barrier at the venue’s perimeter.

Since the 20,000-seat shed opened in July 2004, residents have called in more than 400 complaints to government agencies about noise. An ensuing lawsuit cost the county more than $600,000 in legal fees and ended in a settlement with venue operator Live Nation, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Officials have reportedly already removed two lawn speakers, lowered the remaining six by 20 feet and tilted them toward the ground. Visual monitors now alert sound engineers when shows exceed acceptable sound levels. A temporary 30-foot canvas wall is also up to block certain frequencies from escaping the area, the paper said.

But the biggest term of the deal – a $2.5 million, 70-foot-high wall designed to trap noise – has yet to be built. Live Nation has until September 30th to build the wall.

Live Nation Senior VP Wilson Rogers reportedly said the delay isn’t intentional.

“We’re trying to get as much wall and as effective a wall as we can get within budget,” he told the St. Petersburg Times. “We have to make sure what gets built will do what it’s designed to do.”

Ford Amphitheatre GM Ed Morrell said steel to build the wall was recently delivered.

“It’s in our best interest to meet the terms of the agreement,” Morrell told the paper. “We came into Tampa wanting to be the jewel of the market. We don’t want to drag this out.”

Fear of further discord has already caused Live Nation to book 15 percent fewer acts than it could hold at the shed.

Resident Joanne O’Brien sits on a six-person task force Live Nation was required to form after the settlement. She’s convinced the company intends to reduce noise, the paper said.

“It’s not like they’re dragging their feet,” O’Brien said. “I say give them a chance.”

Morrell has said part of the problem is that many residents perceive noise as worse than it actually is. He told the Times that two Tampa residents complained about the venue when there wasn’t even a concert in action.