Last month’s Luke Bryan concert at Heinz Field generated $500,000 in direct taxes and another $150,000 in fees, according to the Steelers. Unfortunately, it also resulted in a mountain of garbage and bad publicity for the city of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and chief of staff Kevin Acklin publicly addressed this conundrum by threatening concert promoters with the responsibility of financing the massive cleanup of the disheveled asphalt parking lots that resembled an enormous dump site.
The effect of this potential refuse fee will most likely result in a reduction of tax revenue for the city of Pittsburgh due to fewer concerts and/or increased ticket prices for concert fans. Since the city of Pittsburgh needs more revenue to address items such as deteriorating and unsafe infrastructure, insufficient operating funds and increased personnel expenses, I would think another approach to the after-concert garbage dilemma should be considered to offer more tax revenue-generating events.
In lieu of a new refuse fee for concert promoters, I suggest reaching out to the local nonprofit community to discuss the possibility of creating a fundraising opportunity for such organizations by having affiliated volunteers pick up the large volume of trash created by the 50,000 concert fans. Each participating nonprofit group would collect trash to be placed at designated locations.
To raise much-needed funds, the nonprofit groups would be permitted to sell raffle tickets for an extended time prior to the start of the concert. The grand prize could be a new car donated by a local car dealership displayed near the stadium. Supplies like heavy-duty garbage bags, gloves, brooms and shovels could also be donated by local companies. All company donors would have their names printed on donated T-shirts that all the volunteers would wear during the cleanup.
Since the collecting and removal of the trash would occur from the time the parking lots open and during the concert, the mountain of trash should be significantly reduced and the city of Pittsburgh and the participating nonprofit organizations would all benefit.