Pittsburgh mayor calls for restrictions on tailgating, boat docking at major events

In the wake of a concert that Pittsburgh officials said trashed the North Shore and required a massive police and medics response, the mayor’s office is pushing for limitations on tail-gating hours, restrictions on overnight boat docking and deposits from promoters before a pair of big events at the end of the month at Heinz Field and PNC Park.

Spurred by the June 21 concert at Heinz Field by country musician Luke Bryan, more than two dozen officials from city and county government, Pittsburgh’s three major professional sports teams, parking lot operators, stadium and exhibition authorities and other entities met with Mayor Bill Peduto Tuesday to discuss how to better manage crowds, trash and policing of big events.

“He wants the city to keep holding these large events,” said Tim McNulty, Mr. Peduto’s spokesman. “He just wants to do it in a way that’s safe and clean and doesn’t unduly tax the police bureau and public works. ... And everyone in that room agreed that can happen.”

City officials say they are still compiling how much the June 21 concert cost taxpayers for policing and cleanup. Mr. Peduto’s chief of staff, Kevin Acklin, previously estimated the bill at “tens of thousands of dollars.” There was no word whether the city will follow through on its previously stated intention to send a bill to Live Nation Entertainment, the California company that promoted the show at Heinz.

“We haven’‍t made a final decision,” Mr. Acklin said. “This is not about targeting any particular team or concert or performer; it’s about making sure parties collaborate.”

A spokeswoman for Live Nation declined comment.

City officials say the public safety department responded to more than 300 incidents related to the concert, which drew 50,000 fans, including some who arrived eight hours early to tailgate and left parking lots strewn with beer cans and other refuse. Police arrested seven people, broke up 15 fights and answered 154 calls to 911. City medics responded to 100 calls to 911 and transported 34 people to hospitals.

At least 25 people from an array of city departments and outside organizations were in the room with the mayor Tuesday to discuss ways to avoid a repeat of the Bryan concert incidents or those associated with a similarly rowdy Kenny Chesney show last year, as the city prepares to play host to country singer Jason Aldean July 26 at PNC Park and the Manchester City-A.C. Milan soccer game July 25 at Heinz Field, Mr. Acklin said.

“It was a very productive meeting,” Mr. Acklin said. “These are events that generate a lot of revenue for the city, and a lot of people like to go to, but we have to do it in a way that respects the city and the costs the taxpayers pay.”

Most of the officials who exited the meeting, which was closed to the public and reporters, brushed past reporters without answering questions or referred them to the mayor’s office.

Jimmie Sacco, executive director of stadium management at Heinz Field, called it a “good discussion” as he headed for the elevator.

“We’re all working together,” he said.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said developing the new framework for big events will be a cooperative effort.

“We want these events to happen in a safe and clean way, and that’s what we’re going to try to do,” he said.

Mr. Acklin said the city will schedule a series of roundtable-style meetings with stadium, public works and public safety officials and other interested parties to craft the new rules.

“This is basically treating these events no differently than we treat renting a shelter at Schenley Park,” he said.

The rules likely will include deposits retained for any additional clean-up costs, more planning to ensure adequate numbers of off-duty officers that the organizer will pay to work the event, limiting tail-gating to five hours before the event time and prohibiting boaters from docking overnight on the North Shore.

“We talked openly and frankly about how we need to get better,” Mr. Acklin said. “It’‍s better communication and better collaboration to make sure these events happen, and we recognize the economic impact, but the taxpayers and the public image of the city doesn’t bear the cost.”

Robert Zullo: 412-263-3909 or rzullo@post-gazette.com.

First Published July 1, 2014 12:00 AM

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