I’m a Pittsburgher through and through. One look at my office will tell you that. So I feel a little obligated to pose a questions after this weekend’s Luke Bryan concert that left a huge mess at the venue since I am not only from Pittsburgh, but also in the music industry in Nashville. In order to put this into full context bare with me.
If you are unfamiliar with Pittsburgh, Heinz field is where the Steelers play and sits across the river from downtown at the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet. It’s a beautiful area and perfect for summer festivals since it can allow boat traffic, foot traffic and cars. The Huge Stadium is picturesque with an open end that faces the city and Mount Washington. This means, people across the river and on the river can often listen for free because of the horseshoe shape. The City works very hard to beat the messy industrial city reputation and puts a lot of pride into this area.
Last Summer, Country Superstar Kenny Chesney brought his Barefoot Nation Tour into Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Which ended up in 30 tons of trash being left in the lots from tailgating, 49 arrests and 150 people were treated for various
medical needs. Another 45 people were taken to medical facilities as well. (source)
The Outrage led to many people calling for the banning of Chesney and even led to a Facebook group with over 7,000 likes.
Fast Forward to 2014, another superstar Luke Bryan is scheduled to perform at the same venue, but after last year the city put some rules in place. Like leave your couch at home and don’t go to the bathroom in the parking lot. You know, what most civilized people wouldn’t do to start with.
Well Saturday came and went and once again the lots were trashed and drunks stumbled into the show.
There is no official trash total yet the costs are “Tens of thousands of dollars” so far according to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. And he said he’s not paying for it.
Enough is enough — the continued trashing of our city has to stop.
Pittsburgh is the cultural and economic engine for our entire tri-state region and hosting concerts is part that tradition. But there is no reason that large events like the one Saturday on the North Shore should force city taxpayers to bear the burden for outsized amounts of garbage removal and public safety response.
Public Safety officials responded to more than 300 incidents related to the concert.
Pittsburgh Police issued 37 non-traffic citations (20 for scalping; 10 for public urination; 6 for disorderly conduct; and one for public intoxication); made at least seven arrests; broke up 15 fights and answered 154 calls to 911. City medics responded to 100 calls to 311 and made 34 transports to hospitals.
Public Works cleaned the area through the day starting at 11 a.m. yesterday and had an overnight crew emptying garbage cans, and flushing and sweeping streets. Sunday morning it was still picking up garbage from boaters along the Allegheny River.
The city will be holding those responsible — including promoters — liable for these service costs and invoicing them.
We’ve worked too hard to build the quality-of-life in Pittsburgh to let others get away with destroying it. My administration will investigate further ways to hold promoters more accountable for these costs and impacts, while recognizing the economic benefits such large events bring to our publicly-owned facilities.”
To put things in perspective, CMA Fest held annually in Nashville this year footed a bill of $15,000 in 2012 (which is the last year the stats were available) and was multiple days and similar regulations in place.
Is it the culture created by the music? Maybe it has to do with the dramatized shows like “Party Down South” or “Buckwild”. But Pittsburghers are pointing their fingers squarely at Country Artists and Fans. The shows have become more about drinking, partying and tailgating than the actual music. Many are saying that limiting parking lot hours to 2 hours before the show would prohibit this. But would that really stop people from showing up or even driving intoxicated?
The truth is that it’s more than that, it’s a self entitled, selfish attitude that many fans take. Many found it as a challenge to beat last years trash record. Many probably never heard of Luke Bryan or could name one song, but were just there for the party. The truth is, maybe we expect too much out of everyone to act accordingly. Many fans were responsible, there for the show and just as appalled. But the fact remains that the lot “smells of beer and urine” even this afternoon.
This isn’t just about Luke, Kenny or even country music, should any artist be responsible for fans behavior?
So the question stands to be addressed. Who is responsible: The Artist, the Promoter, the Venue or the Fans? And how do you keep from it happening again?