Tampa’s Gasparilla Music Festival can’t use Kiley Garden, but remains ‘optimistic there will be a GMF 2023’

Of note is that GMF has yet to announce dates for the 2023 edition of its festival.

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click to enlarge Tampa's Kiley Garden has been home to three Gasparilla Music Festival stages in recent years. - Ysanne Taylor c/o Gasparilla Music Festival
Ysanne Taylor c/o Gasparilla Music Festival
Tampa's Kiley Garden has been home to three Gasparilla Music Festival stages in recent years.
Gasparilla Music Festival (GMF) will have one less green space to utilize for its 2023 edition.

Today, Axios said that Kiley Gardens is unavailable due to structural issues.

A spokesperson for the City of Tampa told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay that Kiley—which has played host to three GMF stages in recent years—is unavailable because of “water intrusion issues that have been identified through an exploratory evaluation.”

“As a precautionary measure, the City is not allowing any events in the space until we receive full approval from an engineer to put loads on the top surface of the structure,” Spokesperson Lauren Rozyla added. “Tampa Parks & Recreation is actively working with the organization to find a suitable alternative location for the event.”

GMF was founded in 2012 and has remained grassroots in presenting a festival in both Kiley Garden and Curtis Hixon Park every year, including three in the span of two years during the pandemic. It’s never been held anywhere but across the Hillsborough River from the University of Tampa’s iconic minarets, which have been a stunning backdrop for the last 11 years.

David Cox, Executive Director for GMF, told CL that the festival has been working on an alternative plan to "create an amazing festival experience for 2023 in downtown Tampa" ever since learning about waterproofing issues underneath Kiley and the fact that the city won't issue a permit for GMF to use that park.

“Unfortunately, we still have some issues that haven't been resolved and are working through those now,” Cox added. “We remain optimistic there will be a GMF 2023 with some exciting new changes, and we look forward to being able to announce those details soon.”

Axios added that GMF organizers have eyes on Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, the next greenspace up the Hillsborough River.

At Julian B. Lane, the festival's background would presumably be the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts, with UT's minarets to the south. It's unclear where GMF—which usually programs four stages, plus ambient entertainment as part of its festival—would put a second big stage that usually occupies Kiley, but the park does have a large football field on its northwest corner.

Water Works park would also be a short walk away from Julian B. Lane, but GMF has not included a stage festival goers would have to walk to, except in 2016 when it invited music fans to walk from Curtis Hixon to MacDill Park.

CL has asked the City of Tampa for copies of any exploratory evaluations related to Kiley Gardens as well as any permits related to GMF 2023.

GMF has yet to announce dates for the 2023 edition of its festival, which usually happens as part of Gasparilla Arts Month kicking off in just a few weeks. Last year, GMF ran three-days from Feb. 25-27. In past years, GMF has launched ticket sales and announced primary and secondary lineup announcements by this time of year.

Cox added that 2022 was the best year for GMF’s nonprofit foundation, which, in part, places instruments in local schools. “Our festival had its best year in ticket sales, sponsorships, and memberships, and we are excited to keep that momentum growing, and growing our festival in 2023 and beyond,” he said.

UPDATED 01/09/23 1:33 p.m. Updated with information on how GMF might utilize Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park.

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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