More guests, beach access points added to The Hangout Music Festival

We’re a little more than two months from the kick off of a festival that brings more than $31 million to the City of Gulf Shores. Today, the city council cast a vote to enhance the experience of concert guests.

One of the changes approved by the city today was increasing the number of beach access points from one to three, something both the city and event organizers said just makes sense.

“The city council listened to the public safety people that really had a chance to, in detail, look at the plan, the number of people and the access to the east and west through a corridor to allow the traffic or those UTVs that we need for moving back and forth east to west, making sure that those are done correctly. So it all seemed like a good plan,” Grant Brown, director of recreation and cultural affairs, said.

The council approved that request 4-1. That one opposing vote came from councilman Joe Garris, who said it’s just not necessary.

“I think we have a well trained lifeguard staff. I think our policemen do a great job, our firemen do a great job. But you know, I just do not see this water access being something that the festival needs,” Garris said. “They talk about how beautiful it is, you can see all that. You don’t need to get in the water.”

Festival organizers argue that it makes good business sense.

“It is a business and allowing us to have three access points allows us to entertain sponsor opportunities at three points as opposed to one,” Brad Cohen, director of operations for The Hangout, said.

Cohen said only 100 people at a time will be allowed access at each of the three beach access points.

Creating those new access points adds to the festival’s cost. Part of that will be offset by another measure passed by the council Monday evening: adding 5,000 more attendees.

“Now we have coordinated things that we feel very comfortable that we can fit 40,000 people in our footprint and they’ll still be able to enjoy the show like they have in the past,” Cohen said.

Which is good news for those hoping to make it to the beaches come May.

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