City approves plan for giant Front Street tent
City planners have approved a proposal by Spanish Town Entertainment to erect a large tent on Front Street to protect large outdoor events from bad weather.
The plan was approved at the City of Hamilton’s monthly meeting and the principals behind it are hopeful the tent, which holds thousands, will be erected before Cup Match. The 15,000 sq ft tent will cover the entire car park at Number One Shed.
The sides will be removed from the tent when events are not taking place to allow the site to continue to be used for parking.
Spanish Town general manager Eugene Dean said the approval was a welcome end to what has been a long road to getting an enclosed venue that’s centrally located.
“The tent was purchased back in 2004,” Mr Dean said. “The rationale behind it was that Bermuda has always been short on large venues.
“We recognised that for large concerts, community events, conventions and things of that nature there was always a challenge to find a feasible location.
“Even initiatives like the Music Fest suffered as a result of inclement weather because large events have always had to go outside, which means that promoters were always at risk because of the weather.
“We brought the tent hoping that entities like the Government, the City of Hamilton and others would be willing to work with us to make it available to stage a number of events. At one point the Music Fest was cancelled for two consecutive years due to inclement weather.
“Up to now, for the most part, we’ve been left with the option of having the tent put up at either ends of the Island, either in Dockyard or in St David’s. That worked for some things but most people would prefer a venue in a central location.”
He noted that Spanish Town was approached by the City of Hamilton in 2009 “to start a conversation about putting the tent up in Hamilton”.
“We went through extensive meetings with City engineers. There were some structural challenges because there were segments of the dock that were actually hollow underneath it and then it all went quiet again. We started to look at alternative locations when the conversation started up again.”
Asked why this has taken so long he said: “A lot of times you have to wait for the stars to align properly. It’s having the right people and the right mindsets in place with everybody on board and on the same page.
“Finally that has now taken place where the current team at the City of Hamilton and the engineers are all on board and the structural challenges that were an issue in 2009 have been resolved.
“Once we’re able to sort out all of the logistics with the engineers on how we position the tent and how we will secure it, the tent will be erected within a matter of weeks.
“The plan is to have different events at this venue throughout the year. It could be anything from a farmers’ market, banquets, conferences and live concerts. And the beauty of it is that the 100ft x 150ft tent actually fits right over the entire car park.”
An spin-off benefit is that parked vehicles will soon have shade during the day.
“The framework will remain in place throughout the year, but it is hoped the tent will be used from May through to October in the initial stages. All bookings to use the tent as a venue will go through the City of Hamilton,” Mr Dean added.
City Alderman Donal Smith, chairman of the Infrastructure, Development and Futures Committee said the new venue option was “desperately needed”. And the fact that the car park will be covered during the hot summer months was another benefit.
“This plan takes the threat of rain out of the equation for promoters and others who may wish to use it. There’s going to be a lot of events hosted in the city this year and we anticipate quite a bit of interest,” said Mr Smith.
“This new feature is a welcomed addition and now that Harbour Nights has been expanded, we’re hoping the Chamber of Commerce will sign on with extended hours to coincide with future events.”
From a business perspective he said: “This initiative has great potential.”