SAN DIEGO — Ed Sheeran is performing at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park on Friday night at a private ticketed event. Officials are closing off the public promenade, where people have set up to watch events in the past.
The San Diego Symphony which operates at the Shell said each event they have to weigh the ability of access versus prioritizing safety, and said closing is the best option for public safety inside and outside the venue.
There will be no catching a free Ed Sheeran show from the immediate right and left along the Rady Shell on Friday night.
Sheeran is performing at the San Diego-based nonprofit Curebond for their concert for cures. The private event raises money for cancer research.
The Port of San Diego gave permission to close the public promenade around the Shell, after receiving a recommendation from the harbor police chief.
Craig Hall, the vice president of marketing and communications for the San Diego Symphony, said Sheeran’s high profile is one of the driving factors behind the closure.
“This venue is capacity meant to hold a top capacity of 9,000 people, so even the idea of having a fraction of those many people around the area wanting to catch a glimpse or experience this would likely create a dangerous situation,” said Hall, the San Diego Symphony Vice President of Marketing and Communications.
Back in March 2023, the Port of San Diego banned people from sitting on the rocks next to the promenade. The promenade ban also means people cannot bring in large sidewalk-blocking items such as tents and coolers before and during events. However, people could still walk through.
But for Sheeran, San Diego Fire Marshal and Deputy Chief Tony Tosca says a full closure, even for walkers benefits people inside and outside the Rady Shell.
“We need to be able to have access for people to evacuate egress, and we also have to have emergency ingress to get to people in the event of an emergency,” said Tony Tosca, the San Diego Fire Marshal and Deputy Chief
The California Coastal Commission, whose goal is to ensure public access to shorelines and public lands, is skeptical.
In a statement, Lisa Haage, Chief of Enforcement for California Coastal Commission wrote:
“We were not given any notice of this closure last week. The Commission is very concerned about access to this area since it’s built on State tidelands, and it’s a very popular spot. Public coastal access was central to the permit for this facility, and we are actively looking into this.”
State tidelands are public lands. They are held in trust for the public by a state agency known as the State Lands Commission, so the land underneath the stadium belongs to the public.
“Understandably, 100% that’s a walkable path, but people are going to continue to walk and that’s what it is that’s fine, I think the challenge is at times is when people stop and they are setting up viewing area and a seating area…so that’s where it starts to get a little cloudy,” Tosca said.
Hall added, “Given the circumstances around tonight’s event, that it was in the best interest of public safety for the people inside the venue for those around the venue.”
There are still many public areas for people to hear and watch the show, such as the basketball courts, public park and the walkway from the convention center.
The closure of a portion of the Promenade will be managed by security staff working for the event venue. Harbor Police officers will be at the venue to conduct enforcement as necessary and support the safety and security of the venue. Click here to view the rules for the promenade for Shell events.
“We urge the public to abide by the rules for the promenade for this and all events at the Rady Shell. We also encourage people to remember driving and boating safety – don’t drink and drive, and if you’re on a boat, ensure you have all the proper and required safety gear. Our goal and responsibility is to protect the public and ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience on the waterfront at all times,” said Chief Magda Fernandez, Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department.
The Rady Shell promenade has been closed twice previously: 1) September 2, 2022 for the Flume concert; and (2) June 17, 2023 for the Seven Lions.