An armada of Tampa Electric trucks rolled into Tampa’s Florida State Fairgrounds and MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Wednesday, preparing to use the parking lots as a staging area for restoring power to tens of thousands of Hillsborough County homes affected by Hurricane Irma.
Whether TECO’s arrival had anything to do with the cancellation of Wednesday’s Depeche Mode concert at the amphitheater is unclear. But it could pose a conflict with another concert there on Saturday: Brad Paisley.
On Wednesday afternoon, Paisley’s management and venue owners Live Nation decided that the show should be able to take place, making it the first major concert in Central Florida since Irma passed through early Monday.
But 500 or so workers — some of which came from as far away as New Hampshire, Missouri and Nova Scotia — could still be using the area as an “incident base” on the day of the show and beyond. At least 200,000 TECO customers are still without power, including 155,000 in Hillsborough County.
“We expect it to remain open through Sunday,” TECO spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said of the staging area. “If we complete restoration before then, we will close it early.”
Teena Tatro, marketing and promotions manager for the Florida State Fair, said that if trucks are still on site on Saturday, they could move from amphitheater’s lots to another part of the Fairgrounds to make way for tailgaters. The trucks, she said, “definitely won’t be in the amphitheater’s way.”
Several events scheduled for the Fairgrounds this week have already canceled, Tatro said, but CropMania!, a crafting and scrapbooking expo, was still slated for Saturday at the Special Events Center. The National Guard was also using the parking lots as a staging area, but was expected to roll out Wednesday.
Paisley, who performed on Tuesday night’s star-studded Hand in Hand hurricane relief telethon, usually draws a big crowd at his annual concerts in Tampa, with at least 15,000 fans possible.