Hangout Surprised By City Denial

Hangout Music Festival organizers got some of what they wanted at a recent city council meeting in Gulf Shores, Ala., but were denied a key request.

The city granted several requests at the Feb. 24 meeting.

The May 16-18 event, held on the city’s beach, will now include a “Viacom Broadcast Center” with two pools in the beach area where MTV and other Viacom channels will broadcast, according to Mobile’s Press-Register.

The Boom Boom Stage will face southwest rather than south, and can now have performances at the same time as the mainstage from 9 to 11 p.m. Also, the BMI Stage will be a general admission area.

But the key request hit a wall with council members.

Shaul Zislin, owner of The Hangout and head of its promotion efforts, wanted three access points limited to 150 people at each spot at any time, to the Gulf of Mexico, which has never been allowed at the festival.

The council denied the request, granting one access point and limited it to 100 people.

Zislin said he was caught off guard. “For you guys as politicians to sit there and scale that back and say, ‘No, we’ll just give you one’ Why?” he asked, according to the paper.

“What reason can you guys give us that work at this year-round, invest millions of dollars into this event, and try to create the best event in the world? You know you all took a huge leap of faith in political bravery with us four years ago. And guess what? It paid off.”

Mayor Robert Craft responded that the council never envisioned festivalgoers would get in the ocean but decided one access point will give Zislin a chance to prove it will work.

“We’ve got 35,000 people and we’re trying to make sure that they’re safe and taken care of,” Craft said. “This will be the safest place on the Gulf Coast from Texas to Tampa because every hundred people will have two lifeguards,” Zislin responded. “The reason I’m arguing for this so hard, guys, is it’s been very tough, for sure.

“I know there’s this perception in council and around the community that this is just a cakewalk for us. We bring in trucks on Monday morning, we don’t even know where to put the money we make so much. Right? We don’t.

“We need to absolutely take every opportunity to try to make this thing work for us. We said we’re in it for the long run. We’ve invested millions of dollars into this event to the benefit of the city, the community and ourselves, hopefully, in the long run. But right now the only ones waiting on the sidelines for the long run is us.”

Craft and the majority of the council agreed to give Zislin another shot at convincing them at a future meeting, according to the paper.

“You have earned that right from us,” Craft said.

Zislin told Pollstar he “feels very strongly” his company and the city will overcome their differences at the next meeting.

“Our staff has been in meetings for two days straight to get over their concerns,” he said. “We feel they’ve practiced their due diligence but we absolutely came through and delivered what they were expecting as far as a safety plan.”