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Thunder by the Bay
Sarasota Tuesday, Apr. 19, 2016 6 years ago

City reaches agreement on new Thunder by the Bay site

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After the motorcycle festival generated complaints from businesses and residents, city officials believe they’ve negotiated a more palatable configuration for the event.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

The organizers of Thunder by the Bay will have the opportunity to keep the motorcycle festival on Main Street in downtown Sarasota, as city staff has given initial approval to a new layout for the event.

Although the event would remain on Main Street, the changes would shift the event largely east of the roundabout at Five Points. A significant portion of the three-day festival would be located east of Orange Avenue, a response to complaints from businesses on lower Main Street and Palm Avenue.

Thunder by the Bay map
Thunder by the Bay organizer Lucy Nicandri submitted this map outlining a new configuration for the motorcycle festival.

Since January, the city has been negotiating with Lucy Nicandri, executive director of Suncoast Charities for Children, regarding the future of the event in the downtown core. In addition to complaints from businesses and residents, city officials began to question whether the festival had outgrown its traditional footprint and needed to move.

Currently, Thunder by the Bay is one of two events with a special exception from a temporary moratorium on street closures west of Orange Avenue on Main Street. In March, the City Commission declined to make any significant changes to its special events regulations, and staff agreed to continue negotiations with Thunder by the Bay organizers.

At Monday’s City Commission meeting, Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown reported that staff was comfortable with the upper Main Street configuration, one of three alternate site plans proposed by Thunder by the Bay representatives.

“Looking at this from a staff point of view, it seems to have addressed all of the concerns expressed,” Brown said.

That doesn’t mean the event is guaranteed to take place on Main Street in 2017. Thunder by the Bay organizers must obtain approval from at least 67% of the businesses affected by the street closures before the city permits the event.

Next year’s Thunder by the Bay, the 19th annual iteration of the festival, is scheduled to take place Jan. 5-8.

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