Downtown Miami

Why the Rolling Loud hip-hop music festival may be silenced

Kendrick Lamar, top left, Migos, bottom left, and Lil Wayne, right, are scheduled to perform at Rolling Loud.
Kendrick Lamar, top left, Migos, bottom left, and Lil Wayne, right, are scheduled to perform at Rolling Loud. AP photos

A downtown Miami music festival featuring some of hip-hop’s biggest acts could be canceled at the 11th hour after a city commissioner says he was left in the dark about the event.

On Tuesday, the board that governs Bayfront Park, where Rolling Loud is set to go off May 5-7, may hold a meeting to vote on the potential rejection of the festival’s use agreement for the park. The vote was requested by Frank Carollo, chairman of the Bayfront Park Management Trust, who questioned last week whether the show could be canceled after learning the festival had been approved without his knowledge or the board’s consent.

“We have to do the show. If not we’re going to get sued,” a frustrated Carollo said during a March 28 board meeting. “They’re advertising already and selling tickets for this event.”

We have a deal. We have an agreement. We were told we were good to go and we’re acting on that

Brian Andrews, spokesman for Rolling Loud

Bayfront Park, which has a partnership with Live Nation, has hosted music festivals for years. It’s the home of Ultra, one of the premier events on the electronic dance music festival circuit, Pitbull’s New Year’s Revolution and this month’s Kaya Music Festival on April 22. Dope Entertainment, the group behind Rolling Loud, said eight months ago in announcing its move to the park that the event was a logical upgrade for a festival that had quickly outgrown its more modest digs in Wynwood.

But Carollo, who did not respond to requests for comment, apparently was unaware of the event until police told him last week that they were bracing for crowds up to 40,000 strong. He said long-time executive director Timothy Schmand didn’t have the authority to sign the festival contract without board approval.

The laws that govern the Trust’s operations state that the executive director is tasked with executing contracts “after approval by the board.” But it’s fairly common for Bayfront to host events without board approval, unless they’re multi-year agreements or require the Trust to spend money. Schmand said during last week’s board meeting that he did nothing out of the ordinary in signing a one-time contract.

Still, Schmand resigned last week effective April 12 following a dispute with Carollo over the event. On Tuesday, an aide to Carollo sent Schmand an email asking him to schedule a board meeting for April 11 for the board to vote on his interim replacement and the “approval/denial of the use agreement for the Rolling Loud Festival.”

A spokesman for Dope (which stands for Delivering Outstanding Professional Entertainment) said the festival has a legitimate contract and doesn’t expect to share Schmand’s fate.

“We have a deal. We have an agreement. We were told we were good to go and we’re acting on that,” said spokesman Brian Andrews. “We want to be good neighbors and we want to be part of the downtown Miami scene for years to come, not just a one-hit wonder.”

Andrews said organizers are already meeting with police to plan for crowd control, reaching out to businesses and residents’ groups to talk about the festival, and discussing the extension of public transit hours serving downtown with Miami-Dade County. A source familiar with festival logistics said around $8 million has already been spent preparing for the festival.

Rolling Loud organizers are concerned about Carollo’s call for a vote. But the park’s governing laws suggest it may be difficult to cancel the agreement. They state 11 reasons upon which a permit to use the park can be denied, including health and safety issues, or material misrepresentations by the applicant. But it doesn’t appear Rolling Loud has violated any of them.

“We’re doing everything we were requested to do,” Andrews said.

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