Cincinnati Lifts GA Ban For The Boss
A ban on the festival-seating arrangement that contributed to a fatal 1979 stampede at a Cincinnati arena will be lifted for a Bruce Springsteen concert this fall, officials said.A ban on the festival-seating arrangement that contributed to a fatal 1979 stampede at a Cincinnati arena will be lifted for a Bruce Springsteen concert this fall, officials said. Springsteen requested that the city reinstate general admission seating for his Nov. 12 concert at U.S. Bank Arena. Managers of the venue said they were eager to try it anyway to compete with arenas in other cities that allow such an arrangement for top acts.
Eleven people were trampled to death Dec. 3, 1979, when fans rushed the doors at the arena -- then known as Riverfront Coliseum -- for a concert by the Who. Cincinnati later banned festival seating, allowing reserved seats only, and started new crowd control measures.
Cincinnati police gave permission for the variance at the Springsteen concert. "They're not a crowd likely to get rowdy and cause trouble," police spokesperson Lt. Kurt Byrd said. "He draws a generally well-behaved crowd."
General admission floor seating will represent about 1,800 of the arena's 17,200-seat capacity for the concert, with the rest sold as reserved seats, Byrd said. Tickets go on sale Saturday (Aug. 10).
But the consultant who recommended safety improvements after studying the 1979 tragedy opposes lifting the festival-seating ban at the arena where the deaths occurred. "People all the time forget the lessons of the past," said Paul Wertheimer, a Chicago-based consultant.
Jim Moehring, general manager of U.S. Bank Arena, said security will be closely monitored to assess the chance of using festival seating for other concerts. Other venues might pack as many as 2,500 fans into the floor space where U.S. Bank Arena will allow 1,800, Moehring said. Floor seat ticket holders will receive wristbands that security workers will check often, he added. "Whether or not they can do this well, it shouldn't be done -- for safety's sake -- and because it will set a precedent," Wertheimer said.
As previously reported, tonight (Aug. 7) Springsteen will kick off a world tour at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J. The tour comes in support of his latest Columbia album, "The Rising," which earlier this week became Springsteen's fifth No. 1 album in the U.K.
Visit Billboard.com tomorrow for a review of the tour's opening show.
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