PORTSMOUTH, Va. — A music festival is taking over the Portsmouth Sportsplex this weekend. Crews are in the process of setting up for the 420ish Unity Festival. It’s an event city officials said people will never forget.
Many city officials and festival staff are optimistic about the festival. Although a festival of this magnitude has not been done before in Portsmouth, organizers said they're expecting to draw a big crowd.
"I want people, when they come through the tunnel and they see the welcome to Portsmouth sign, they don't think about violence. They think about that music festival that they had a fantastic experience at," said Germain Green, founder and organizer of the 420ish Unity Festival.
The goal is to change the city’s image.
This festival will be the first of its kind in the city, right at the Sportsplex.
Residents like Ronald Boomer said, "We're not even concerned about crime or nothing like that. Everybody is going to be pretty much at the concert anyway."
While the details of the security plan remain unknown, Green tells News 3 reporter Kelsey Jones there will be traffic control operated by police and the sheriff's office.
"Come tomorrow - April 23 and 24 - Portsmouth, Virginia, will probably be the most secure city in the state of Virginia," said Green.
News 3 asked Green, how so?
"With the Portsmouth Police injected in the neighborhoods, they're not just handling traffic - they're handling a perimeter farther then the gates of this festival," said Green.
With the stage, tents, portable toilets all now on the grounds, Green said they're expecting between 5,000 and 7,000 people.
"Even though we put up 30,000, we have room for 40,000," said Green.
When it comes to ticket sales as of now, the festival organizer said they have sold 2,000.
City leaders said they're hoping this festival will bring big dollars to the city.
"They're going to go to our restaurants and spend money on food. They're going to go to our gas stations; they're going to go to some of the stores that we have," said Portsmouth Vice Mayor De'Andre Barnes.
Barnes said he hopes the funds made from the festival will go towards helping the community.
"We will put it into taxes so we can lower taxes for the City of Portsmouth, and just invest in some programs and into our police department," said Barnes.
"I'm hoping this festival brings that sunshine and that positive light over our city," said Green.
The festival organizer told us some of the big names that will hit the stage include Rick Ross, City Girls and Gucci Mane, just to name a few.
A two-day, non-refundable general admission ticket is $300 with fees. Green said he's offering buy one, get one free passes until Saturday at 5 p.m.