TAMPA, FL (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — When the controversial Ford Amphitheatre was opening last year in Tampa, Florida, Hillsborough county environmental regulators concluded that it probably would not cause noise problems in the surrounding neighborhood.
Unfortunately, their conclusions were based on an approved design of the shed, not the finished product.
The amphitheater roof was eventually build 40 percent higher than the design, and hosted a different speaker configuration, the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission told the St. Petersburg Times.
Those unapproved changes are significant reasons why the Ford Amphitheatre has repeatedly violated noise regulations, prompting the nearly 300 complaints from neighbors.
The EPC is not locked in three lawsuits involving Clear Channel Entertainment, which build and operates the $23-million venue, and the Florida State Fair Authority, which owns the land. At the center of the legal battle is the noise levels generated by the 20,000-seat facility during concerts.
A Clear Channel representative testified in a deposition that the design had changed after approval from the EPC. Ed Morrell, general manager of the facility, told the paper that if changes were made, they improved the facility.
"If there were any real differences between what was submitted and what was built, which is in dispute, then those changes would have actually managed sound better, if they had any effect at all," he said.
Neighbors have claimed that the music during concerts is so loud that it shakes pictures hanging on their walls and forces them to leave their homes.
In the original design of the shed, the distance between the roof and the upward sloping berm is 89 feet, EPC engineers said. As build, the distance is 123 feet.
Experts hired by the EPC, including a sound engineer from the University of Florida, say the higher roof could easily account for noise in the neighborhood.
During the deposition, Ahrens was shown a drawing of the roof plan submitted to the EPC. "This isn't what we built," he said, according to the paper.
Asked if he showed the EPC the new design, Ahrens said no.
"At the time we submitted the report," he explained, "we were not sure if we were going to use this roof or the roof that had been previously modeled."
Ahrens also said that the company did not test the noise levels in the surrounding neighborhood after the amphitheater opened.
The next hearing on the lawsuits is scheduled for July 11 in Hillsborough Circuit Court. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers