Astroworld Tragedy: New agreement details NRG Park mass event planning after deadly festival

The city-county agreements come a little more than a year after 10 people died at the Astroworld Festival in 2021

HOUSTON – The fallout of the Astroworld Festival garnishes a new potential agreement between Harris County and the City of Houston over their responsibilities at NRG Park.

The consensus comes a little more than a year after 10 people lost their lives because of a crowd crush at the Astroworld Festival on Nov. 5, 2021.

For the last year, families watched as city and county leaders fumbled for answers to their questions of accountability.

The Astroworld Festival took place at NRG Park, a venue within the overlapping jurisdictions of Houston and Harris County.

According to county documents, the commissioners court directed the county administrator on Nov. 15, 2021 to meet with organizations to review “security, fire, life and safety plans” of outdoor concerts on NRG Park property.

In an hour-long documentary, KPRC2 Investigates examined what went wrong and what needed to be done to prevent another mass causality incident from happening in Houston. Crowd crush experts, emergency responders and others pointed to the importance of proper planning, documenting safety plans and crowd management.

“The problem started long before the crisis stage when it was finally acknowledged that this was out of control,” said Paul Wertheimer, founder of Crowd Management Strategies/Crowdsafe.

In a new agreement, the entities are focusing on events with more than 6,000 attendees.

The event host will need to provide an “Event Security Plan or Event Medical Plan” before it takes place.

According to the agreement, event planners will participate in regularly scheduled meetings with representation from the Houston Fire Department, Houston Police Department, Mayor’s Office of Special Events, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office, NRG Park, and others.

Appointed representatives from HFD or HPD can reject presented event plans.

Depending on the event will determine if a Unified Command Center is needed. Selected representatives will have the power to shut down an event if it gets out of hand.

The agreement states, “The Parties expressly reserve all rights to recoup costs expended for emergency response caused by a deviation from the Event Security Plan or Event Medical Plan, subject to the appropriation of funds by a Party’s governing body, if applicable.”

KPRC 2 Investigates has reached out to both the city and county for comment on the potential agreement.

Previously, Harris County Precinct Two Commissioner Adrian Garcia promised changes to the process.

The Commissioner told KPRC 2 Investigates, “Well, look tragedies, regretfully sometimes, realize the necessity to review things and that’s why this initiative is all forward looking, we can second guess what happened in the past to some degree, but that’s not what we need to pay attention to, we need to look forward,” said Garcia.

Harris County Commissioners plan to vote on the contract during their meeting on November 29th.

Susan Christian, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events sent the following statement:

“The document under consideration is the result of hours of hard work by many people. Each member of the task force brought their professional expertise to develop a plan to improve safety at future NRG Park events.  If our recommendations are approved, the interlocal agreement has defined roles that will enhance safety and security planning for events through improved interagency communication, advanced review of the event plan, written approval of security and medical plans and a Unified Command Center, when necessary. I am grateful to Mayor Sylvester Turner for creating the task force and appreciate the opportunity to work with Co-Chair Perrye Turner and the entire City/County Task Force.”


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About the Author:

As an Emmy award-winning journalist, Jason strives to serve the community by telling in-depth stories and taking on challenges many pass over. When he’s not working, he’s spending time with his girlfriend Rosie, and dog named Dug.