By Shelley Childers
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — For the first time since its creation in February, the City of Houston-Harris County Special Events Task Force came together publicly with their plans for large-scale events at NRG Park.
The team, created in response to the fatal Astroworld Festival, was tasked with the goal of intense collaboration to prevent tragedies like Travis Scott’s Live Nation event in the future.
On Nov. 5 2021, a crowd surge during the first night of the Astroworld Festival killed 10 people. A recent lawsuit also claims an attendee lost her unborn child because of the event.
Questions quickly arose about which agencies had jurisdiction over safety, security, and medical response.
“NRG is a county facility, but it’s located in the city of Houston. So, when you’re planning events, people need to know who is responsible for what,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said during Monday’s press conference.
The group announced their new interlocal agreement to streamline communications between county and city entities for events specific to NRG Park.
“An agreement that clearly delineates responsibility between all parties to have a clear understanding of what their jobs are so nothing will fall through the cracks,” Harris Co. Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said.
The agreement between the city and county is specific to NRG Park only and will cover every event with at least 6,000 people.
It requires promoters to submit a medical plan for approval by the fire department, a security plan for approval by law enforcement, and an occupancy request that the fire department will calculate.
“We will now be involved in the planning and development of that emergency action plan which will give us situational awareness throughout that event,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said.
It also requires an on-site unified command post.
“We want to make sure that the responsibility and decision-making authority is present at the command post in case something happens. We can delay, we can alter, we can cancel, even at the point where the event is ongoing,” Peña said.
Peña estimates about 50,000 people attended Astroworld, which had a capacity for more than twice that number.
He says the tragedy was an issue of over-concentration of people in a certain area.
To address that, there is also a new requirement for crowd management.
As the city and county prepare to host major events like the NCAA Final Four and the World Cup in 2026, they said they are determined to make sure the chaos, confusion and devastation of Astroworld is never repeated.
This Special Events Task Force was created specifically for event safety moving forward.
As far as a criminal investigation, the Houston Police Department said it is still on-going.
HPD investigators said they are working with the assistance of the FBI.
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