The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 18, 2009

Crowd control a concern

Arena hopes to avoid repeat of concert problems

MANKATO — A hard rock concert that drew one of the largest crowds ever to the Alltel Center in February also brought some problems.

Several people had to be treated by ambulance staff or taken to the hospital, police responded to more than two dozen incidents in or around the Alltel Center during the concert and Alltel security staff dealt with something they weren’t used to: a mosh pit full of bouncing, bumping and bashing fans.

It’s all expected to happen again soon, so a group has been formed to make sure everyone is prepared.

“I think we’re just trying to go in with our eyes wide open,” said Eric Jones, Alltel Center marketing manager. “We kind of had a debriefing meeting after the Feb. 13 show, what went well and what we could improve on. We want to stay on top of it, that’s really all it is. Ultimately, we want to protect the crowd from themselves.”

The group, which also includes representatives from Gold Cross Ambulance and Deputy Director of Police Services Matt Westermayer, has a few weeks to plan before Slipknot comes to Mankato May 13. Slipknot is expected to draw the same type of raucous fans the Buckcherry and Papa Roach concert did on Feb. 13.

As a safety precaution, that concert was general admission for the arena floor. There were no chairs on the floor because there were concerns fans would just move them aside or, worse, start throwing them around, Jones said.

A large amount of outside staff also was brought in, including 30 hired guards from Asia Security in the Twin Cities.

The Slipknot show will be the same, with general admission seats above the floor and standing only where the ice is during hockey games. There also will be a large number of security staff from both the Alltel Center and Asia Security.

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