The parking lot at the Comcast Center in Mansfield had a party atmosphere before the start of the Linkin Park concert in August of 2012. (Staff photo by Mark Stockwell)
MANSFIELD - The new security measures at the Comcast Center worked well, according to town public safety officials who reviewed the 2013 concert season for selectmen Wednesday night.
Fire Chief Neal Boldrighini and Police Chief Ronald Sellon beefed up security personnel and streamlined the command structure between public safety departments this season in response to two deaths from a mix of drugs and alcohol at a concert last year.
Boldrighini said the operational changes greatly improved the safety of concert-goers this season at the 19,900-seat arena owned by Live Nation.
But, it wasn’t without its frustrations, he said.
"The reality is that crowds and patrons have changed since the Comcast Center has opened, and that has involved some new challenges as we moved forward," Boldrighini said.
Tailgating in the parking lots, underage drinking and crowd control in the lawn area of the venue have posed the biggest problems to security personnel, mainly because, as Selectman Kevin Moran put it, “a lot of what happens is beyond the facility’s control.”
Those factors, paired with elevated security following the Boston Marathon bombings, presented officials with what Boldrighini described as “learning opportunities” during this season’s 36 shows.
Still, Moran said it’s important to put the matter in perspective.
"We can’t save the world. All we can do is try to protect our corner of it," he said.
Bruce Montgomery, the general manager of the Comcast Center, said the town’s police, fire and medical personnel accomplished that goal.
"As has always been the case, the officers of the Mansfield police and fire departments demonstrated the utmost professionalism and effectiveness," Montgomery said.
Selectman George Dentino agreed.
"You’ve made great strides as far as security on all fronts," Dentino said, before offering some suggestions for the upcoming season.
He said being more diligent about turning away people without tickets could be one way to reduce tailgating. In addition, Dentino said he’s concerned about the safety of young women walking through the center’s parking lots at night, and said better lighting could improve safety.
And Dentino once again expressed his concerns about the arena’s lawn area, calling it his “pet peeve.”
"If I had my wish, I would like to see the lawn disappear and seats put in there," he said.
Overall, selectmen said they were happy to see coordinated efforts succeed, and will soon start discussing the license agreement with the Comcast Center for the 2014 season.
The Sun Chronicle, 11/22/13