Cincinnati May End Festival Seating Ban

Cincinnati city officials are considering whether to lift the 25-year-old ban on concert general admission seating. The ban was imposed after 11 fans were crushed to death during a 1979 performance by

Cincinnati city officials are considering whether to lift the 25-year-old ban on concert general admission seating. The ban was imposed after 11 fans were crushed to death during a 1979 performance by the Who.

The city council will vote this week on whether to allow general admission -- often known as festival seating -- as long as a concert promoter meets certain conditions and gets a permit from the fire chief.

"We're the only city in the top 50 cities for concert venues that has a ban, and a lot of performers apparently pass us by as a result," said Councilman David Pepper. After committee consideration tomorrow (Aug. 3), the full council is expected to make the final decision Wednesday.

Festival seating appeals to promoters because the most enthusiastic fans can get near the stage and help generate excitement for the rest of the crowd. Some performers and bands insist on a festival seating area near the stage.

About 17,200 general admission tickets were sold for the Dec. 3, 1979, concert by the Who at Riverfront Coliseum, now U.S. Bank Arena. The deaths and dozens of injuries occurred when fans rushed at closed doors during a late sound check because they thought the show had started.

A one-time exemption to the ban was granted for a Bruce Springsteen concert in 2002 and no problems resulted.

Police and fire officials said the proposal for permanently lifting the ban resulted from a comprehensive review of city laws. The proposed change would be based on standards created by the National Fire Protection Association, and an inspection would be required to ensure that all conditions were met before each concert.

"Obviously, we want to be very careful here and make sure we're doing it in the right way," Pepper said.

If the ban is lifted, there would be a limit on the number of tickets for the festival seating area. All doors to the festival seating area would have to be opened two hours before a concert, ushers and security personnel would have to be in place before the doors were opened, and a written evacuation plan would be required.


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