Welcome To Rockville Fest Moves To Daytona As Jacksonville Preps Hart Ramps Tear Down

Jul 8, 2019

A longtime Jacksonville tradition has ended - at least for now.

The annual Welcome to Rockville hardcore rock festival has announced it's relocating to Daytona Beach.  The concert promoter made the announcement over the holiday weekend. 

Metropolitan Park had been the festival's home since its beginning, drawing tens of thousands of fans every year.

The festival has found a new home at the Daytona International Speedway for its 10th anniversary. Organizers said it will be "bigger than ever" on May 8-10, 2020.

By May 2020, the Metropolitan Park/Gator Bowl Boulevard area is expected to be a demolition zone as the city works with the Florida Department of Transportation to bring down the Hart Bridge exit ramps that make up downtown Jacksonville's elevated expressway.

The Hart Bridge ramps next to Metropolitan Park will be demolished.
Credit Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

"With the up-and-coming development around the sports complex, mainly the construction involving the Hart's Bridge overpass, we understand the need to move Welcome to Rockville to Daytona in 2020. However, we look forward to working with the promoters and bringing it back home to Jacksonville and the new and improved facilities in 2021," said city spokeswoman Nikki Kimbleton in a statement to WJCT News partner News4Jax.

Late last year the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and the city of Jacksonville each secured $12.5 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The city is using its portion of the money to tear down the ramps that comes off the Hart Bridge and run along Bay Street, while JTA plans to expand and modernize the Skyway monorail system with what it's calling the Ultimate Urban Circulator.

Those now-funded projects are part of a larger overall plan to turn Bay Street and Gator Bowl Boulevard into a three-mile "innovation corridor."

Related: Jacksonville, JTA Awarded $25 Million For Innovation Corridor Projects

“It is a great day for transportation in Jacksonville,” said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry in a statement emailed to WJCT News when the grants were announced. “Our city scored two federal grants that will afford us the opportunity to enhance downtown access, improve traffic conditions and safety and bolster innovation throughout our downtown footprint."

The full cost of the Hart ramps' demolition and ground-level changes is expected to be about $39 million. The city and state are expected to fund the costs beyond what's covered by the federal grant.

Lobbying to bring down the Hart ramps began when the Jaguars pitched an idea to develop Lot J and eventually the Shipyards area as part of an overall $2.5 billion master plan.

This rendering shows a vision unveiled by the Jaguars to redevelop the area where the Hart Bridge ramps now stand.
Credit Jacksonville Jaguars

The first phase of the development is expected to be an entertainment zone to be built in what is currently parking Lot J at the stadium. 

Jaguars President Mark Lamping said in April that work on Lot J, which is expected to cost $500 million, was expected to begin as soon as the Hart Bridge ramps are removed.

This map rendering shows the planned components for Lot J, which is next to TIAA Bank Field and Daily's Place.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.