Annual Kenny Chesney Concert Headache in Pittsburgh Shows Some Improvement

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For the last two years, the annual Kenny Chesney concert at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field on the city’s North Shore has resulted in awe-inspiring images of the trash accumulated by tailgaters arriving early in the morning and drinking to excess before the concert even begins, and jaw-dropping tallies for the amount of arrests, citations, and paramedic activity necessary by city police and EMS personnel. The annual concert has been the unofficial pop country kickoff party for a summer concert season filled with fights, arrests, citations, deaths, rapes, hospitalizations, ambulance rides, and other issues for what used to be the most family-friendly genre in America.

READ: From Checklist to Bro-Country: The Subversion of Country Music

Kenny Chesney has played the same Heinz Field event for many years, and the tailgating scene grew to a fevered pitch in 2013 when pictures went public of how Chesney fans left the parking lot and 70 arrests were made. The concert sparked local outrage at the way the grounds were left and the amount of money necessary for cleanup, and a national debate about the behavioral descent at country music concerts.

Then in 2014, even though Chesney took a year off as the headliner and Luke Bryan filled in, multiple Pittsburgh news outlets were specifically stationed on the scene to report on any potential problems, and an aggressive plan by organizers to hand out trash bags to attendees as they entered the grounds, the scene was still one of trashed parking lots and many issues for police and EMS personnel to sort out.

So how did the 2015 installment of the annual concert go?

There was still plenty of trash around, EMS officials say they receive around 170 calls due to mostly alcohol-related issues, 10 arrests were made, including one of a man who threw a chair at officers and had to be tazed, 17 citations for underage drinking and 8 other citations were handed out by police. But overall the scene seemed a little less chaotic, aided by the decision to not open the parking to tailgaters 3 hours later than previous years, and rain showers that cooled off concertgoers. It was certainly nothing to be proud of, but it did show improvement from previous years.

“We really appreciate their behavior and the most important thing is we appreciate how they behaved before the show, after the show and how they helped clean up,” said Pittsburgh Chief of Operations Guy Costa. “We required every parking lot to have a significant number of port-o-Johns. I believe there was over 100 port-o-Johns in the North Shore area, we required every parking lot operator to have trash bins in their parking lot.”

There was still a sizable amount of cleanup by the looks of the pictures WTAE snapped of the tailgating portion of the parking lot, but the scene was not as bad as previous years. Hopefully this bodes well for the upcoming summer concert season after a 2014 where seemingly every weekend was greeted with headlines about the amount of arrests and other incidents at mainstream country music concerts.