The Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA, has generated a lot of unwanted attention recently as some persistently rowdy concert goers just can’t seem to behave themselves, with scores of people being arrested at concerts for drug, alcohol and violent offenses. More tragically, two lost their lives at a concert there in late July after overdosing. The issues seem shared as Gillette Stadium, the Foxboro home of the New England Patriots that doubles as a stage fit for some of the biggest names in music, had a number of its visitors arrested for various offenses at the New England Country Music Fest this past weekend.
A total of 101 were arrested, while 466 were taken into custody, according to the Boston Globe:
The charges included being a minor in possession of alcohol, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, trespassing, assault and battery, and assault and battery on a police officer, Foxborough Police Sergeant Richard Noonan said. One person was arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, and another was arrested for drug possession.
The Boston Herald described the concert this way today:
Cops rounded up hundreds of drunk and rowdy country-music fans in Foxboro over the weekend in yet another round of boozy, violent mayhem at a Bay State summer concert.
Boozy, violent mayhem! MAYHEM! It should be noted that Gillette Stadium has a capacity of more than 68,000. This festival, which took place over two days, Friday and Saturday, drew more than 110,000 people. The 567 people arrested and or taken into custody accounted for a whopping 0.5 percent of the crowd in attendance. I say this not to pick on the Herald for their overzealous description in the lede of their story, but to make note that this is precisely why we can’t have nice things.
If a bar could cram 110,000 binge drinkers into their strobe lit quarters, the exact same thing would happen. It’s science. Making a big deal out of 500 or so getting arrested for being drunk assholes at an event where 110,000 were present, many of which also were likely tailgating and drinking all day without issue, is like making a big deal out of some drunk asshole getting arrested at a bar.
This is in no way an excuse for anyone who found themselves in trouble, but a few who undoubtedly ruined their own weekend shouldn’t ruin everyone else’s. The vast majority of concert goers were probably oblivious to any of the trouble, but describing the whole event as some mad riot is what will make Foxboro take a good, long hard look at current practices and decides to ban alcohol entirely from the multiple tailgating sites that line streets leading up to the stadium, or tighten security to the point of stranglehold, taking the fun out of the event entirely.
Staff and Police should absolutely strive to keep the environment safe for all. They should strive to keep illegal drugs off the premises and break up fights wherever they get started. They should work to keep people drinking responsibly. This is true at Gillette Stadium, this is true at the Comcast Center and everywhere else. As I’ve written before, there’s no easy way to do this. But what’s not reasonable is punishing the many for the acts of a few.
So was it mayhem? Country Fest is the single biggest weekend of the year for suburban women to wear Cowboy hats and short jorts while their boyfriends rip the sleeves off old T-shirts and decide for themselves that, “You know what, going forward I’m going to try to enjoy the simpler things in life. It’s what Kenny Chesney would do.” And for 99.5 percent of the 110,000 in attendance, that’s exactly what it was.