Promoter says Welcome to Rockville won't return to Jacksonville

Concert held every year in Jacksonville

By Lauren Verno - Consumer investigative reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The show seems to be over for Welcome to Rockville in Jacksonville. 

Promoters announced Sunday the weekend that the annual three-day music festival would hold it's next event at Daytona International Speedway in May 2020.

Officials with Danny Wimmer Presents, the promotion company for the rock festival, said the show has outgrown Metropolitan Park.

"My understanding for the plans for Met Park is they are being developed, possibly into retail and or an entertainment district. So any plan to reduce the size of Met Park is going to prevent Rockville from being able to come back,” CEO Danny Hayes said.

For nine years, hardcore rock and roll lovers crowded into Metropolitan Park to enjoy some of the genre's greatest acts. Hayes said last year, almost 100,000 people attended the festival, but he expects 120,000 next year with the move to Daytona.

"We were kind of getting to the limit of how big the festival could be in Met Park, so there’s no space to give up," Hayes said.

Reacting to the news Sunday, city of Jacksonville spokeswoman Nikki Kimbleton said they hoped the festival would return after the Hart Bridge ramp project in the area is completed.

On Monday, Mayor Lenny Curry said he's not giving up on bringing Rockville back to the River City.

"That was a great event so many people loved it, both local and people that travel to attend it," Curry said. "Sometimes you have to deal with things in life. I’m not a quitter. ... We are going to be actively working to get the event back to downtown Jacksonville."

While the promoter said it doesn't see Welcome to Rockville returning to Jacksonville, they do plan on bringing another event to town.

"We’re working on some concepts and looking at possible sites in Jacksonville. Danny Wimmer is from there, it's his hometown. There’s no way we're going to abandon Jacksonville -- his roots are there. So we’ll definitely come up with something," Hayes said.

As for the construction, the Florida Department of Transportation has not released an exact date to start demolishing the Hart’s Bridge overpass, but a city presentation earlier this year showed the project would begin early next year and would be finished by the end of 2021. The $39 million project will demolish part of the elevated road by the sports complex and replace it with a ground-level road.

This isn't the first time Jacksonville has lost a major music festival to Daytona. The Country 500 now takes place at the speedway after it was held at TIAA Bank Field for a few years.

Concertgoers told News4Jax they are sorry to lose Rockville.

"Losing Met Park in general, I think, is kind of a bummer for festivals. It was the place for festivals. There's not really too much else out there for that," festival fan Rikki Southworth said.

"Yeah, I don't think Daily's is a good trade for Met Park at all," Chip Southworth said.

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