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Kriseman: 50 Cent party organizers will lose their airport lease

Bill DeYoung



Rapper 50 Cent. Photo: Interscope Records

He made national news by taking issue with Governor Ron DeSantis’ Covid-19 response, and now St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman is back in the headlines after calling out a jam-packed Super Bowl party at the city-owned Albert Whitted Airport.

The website TMZ published images of the private Feb. 5 event – $85 general admission, $7,000 for a table by the stage – depicting a large crowd, maskless and shoulder-to-shoulder, while rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson performed onstage. On Twitter, Kriseman expressed outrage at the careless disregard for public safety, and for ignoring his executive order calling for face coverings in indoor public places.

News organizations around the world trumpeted the mayor’s “feud with Fiddy.”

“My feud wasn’t necessarily with him,” Kriseman told the Catalyst Tuesday. “He’s a performer, he showed up to perform. It’s with the folks who put the event on.

“And the fact that the event happened with no apparent safety precautions taken, nothing done to keep the performers or the people there to see it safe, that violated the city’s order for events.”

The concert was sponsored by Sky Addict Aviation, which leases the hangar from the city.

“For events of 250 or more on city facilities, there has to be a safety plan,” said Kriseman. “And they never submitted one – and even if they had, they clearly didn’t enforce it.”

Much of the brouhaha over the mayor’s disapproving tweet centered on his contention that the party was “not safe or smart. It’s stupid. We’re going to take a very close look at this, and it may end up costing someone a lot more than 50 cent.”

It was not an idle threat, nor was it meant to be funny. “Along with my legal staff, I’ve reviewed the lease of the person whose space was used,” he said. “Based on that, I believe they violated the lease. And I am going to be directing my staff to send out a notice of termination. We’re going to terminate that person’s lease.”

Reached by phone Tuesday, a spokesperson for Sky Addict Aviation said he had no comment.

TMZ photo

“I’ve directed our airport director to remind all of our tenants that under the lease agreements they have with the city, there’s language in there about what the permitted use is,” Kriseman explained. “And if they want to use it for any purpose other than that, they have to seek prior approval from the city.

“We will remind all our tenants that that is in their lease, and if they ignore it they risk having their lease terminated.”

Kriseman also talked about Knight Global Entertainment, which owns Jannus Live and several other downtown bars. The company is fighting 13 citations issued by the city, which claims the nightspots violated mask and social distancing orders.

“Certainly it’ll be up to a court to decide that,” Kriseman said. “But there have been challenges all around the state of Florida – there’s at least six other ones I can think of right now – where the authority of local government to put rules in place, very similar to the one we have in place, were challenged. And in each one of those cases, the court held that the city had the authority to put that rule in place.

“So we don’t think they’re going to be successful. But I think the bigger question that the public ought to be asking is: Clearly, they (Knight Global) don’t really care about your health and safety. Because they aren’t interested in complying with very simple rules.

“If I’m not Mayor Rick, but I’m Joe Citizen living in St. Pete, and I see that this organization doesn’t want to follow them, that tells me that if I care about my health, and my community, I might not want to go there.”

Kriseman maintained he was – and is – doing his best to for St. Petersburg as a community. “Whether it’s crime, a hurricane or a pandemic. Whatever.

“And do that while balancing the impacts I know my actions are going to have on our economy and our local small businesses. I firmly believe that if we do some very basic precautions, we can keep our businesses open, keep people employed and keep people safe. We can do all of that at the same time.”

And sometime feathers will get ruffled. “If people think I’m doing a good job, wonderful. You can’t look at social media and not see that there are people who don’t like what you’re doing. I get that.

“But my job isn’t to make everybody like me. My job is to keep my community safe.”














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  1. Avatar


    February 11, 2021at9:49 am

    Christopher 50 did more precaution then any business around here downtown full if people with no mask bars

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    February 10, 2021at7:50 pm

    Martha, there’s no magic machine that can find covid symptoms like coughing and congestion. Fever is actually not an reliable indicator of covid infection.

    “Sounds pretty through” isn’t good enough. We need facts as you say, and the facts are, covid spreads easily and with new variants, we need to be even more strict to quickly squash the virus so Everyone can go to a 50 cent concert in the future, not just a bunch of knuckle heads.

  3. Avatar

    Sunny Lancaster

    February 9, 2021at11:26 pm

    brouhaha — excellent word. Love it.

  4. Avatar


    February 9, 2021at8:21 pm

    No CV19 at the Pier opening…

  5. Avatar


    February 9, 2021at4:23 pm

    In an article published 2 days ago by Tampa Bay 13, it was revealed that

    … prior to walking into the venue, everyone went through a machine that looks like a metal detector, but it tests for COVID 19 Symptoms, like fever, cough, and congestion. If the light turns green, you can go in. But, if the light turns red, you’re then taken to a tent on-site where a nurse gives a rapid COVID 19 test. They expanded the area of the concert and encouraged masks.
    Sounds pretty thorough. They cleaned and had procedures. Sounds like our Mayor is basing his judgements on social media posts and doesn’t have all the facts.

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