Safety concerns cause ticket refunds, attendance cap for ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ event

Relive the movie ’10 Things I Hate About You’

A trailer of the Heath Ledger romantic comedy that featured Tacoma.
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A trailer of the Heath Ledger romantic comedy that featured Tacoma.

The power of Heath Ledger was just too much, joked Chris Staudinger, president of Pretty Gritty Tours in Tacoma.

The tour group announced Friday that the movie night for the 20th anniversary of film “10 Things I Hate About You,” which was filmed at Stadium High School in the late 1990s, will be capped at 5,000 attendees.

As of last week, the group had already registered more than 9,000 people for the event, which will be held June 8 at Stadium Bowl.

“It grew so much bigger than we thought,” Staudinger told The News Tribune.

The organizers will now “start from scratch” — meaning any ticket for movie night that’s been claimed is void. Those interested in attending the event will have to re-purchase tickets.

The new $5 tickets go on sale 8 p.m. Tuesday (May 14) at eventbrite.com. Children under 5 and students with an ASB card are free. All proceeds will support students through the school’s Boosters club, which is also running the event.

Those who purchased Stadium High School set tours for $25 the same night will not have to buy tickets again to get into the movie.

The decision to cap the number of attendees came after the city of Tacoma and Stadium district raised safety concerns for parking availability, ADA accessibility and fire escapes.

“As safety is our number one concern, all parties involved have decided it would be best to lower the number of attendees in the Stadium Bowl,” Pretty Gritty Tours wrote in an update on Facebook. “This might possibly be the largest attended event that The Bowl has seen in decades, and we want to be able to provide the proper security and staff for the event.”

Brandon Fix, president of the Stadium Boosters Club, said that the event was like inviting people to a barbecue at your house and “suddenly 10,000 people show up.”

The Boosters and Pretty Gritty Tours is working collaboratively with the school district, city and surrounding businesses, Fix said. They’re also seeking about 30 volunteers to help with the event.

In total, the Boosters are now looking at rental fees of $3,493, which include more than $1,000 for security alone, according to Tacoma Public Schools.

“The original application from the Boosters to use Stadium Bowl indicated 500 to 1,000 attendees,” Tacoma Public Schools spokesman Dan Voelpel said in an email. “When they notified us later of the possibility of 9,000 to 12,000, that kicked in a lot of extra requirements from us (and the city’s concern for a traffic and parking plan) that appeared to outstrip the ability of the booster club’s capabilities to manage.”

Unofficial capacity for the Stadium Bowl is 15,000 people, Voelpel said, but there have been no events with more than 2,000 people within the past few years. The Bowl sees about 1,500 people for a rivalry football game.

People attending an event at the Stadium Bowl typically park at the parking garage nearby or on the street, said Stadium athletics director Lisa McLaughlin.

After the tickets are sold, attendees will be notified by the Boosters of parking options, including the nearby parking garage, street parking, ADA parking and drop-off locations for people taking Uber or Lyft.

In response to the change, one Facebook commenter said the event would be a “parking nightmare.” Another thanked Pretty Gritty Tours for “making the safest choice.”

Due to overwhelming interest, Pretty Gritty Tours is considering more movies nights in the summer and early fall.

“We appreciate everyone working with us on this,” Staudinger said.

Starring Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, “10 Things I Hate About You” is a modern take on William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” and was filmed at Stadium High School and other places in Tacoma in the late ‘90s. The movie was released in 1999.

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