News Column

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Eric Heyl column

June 25, 2014

By Eric Heyl, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

June 25--They let down the city.

They can do better than that.

No, they must do better.

Can Pittsburgh preserve its status as a source of vaguely appalled amusement for America every time a country music act plays at Heinz Field? Perhaps, but future concert-goers must behave far more repugnantly than they did before Luke Bryan's performance on Saturday.

Mayor Bill Peduto is miffed that many country fans attempted to duplicate the actions at the Kenny Chesney concert last year by cheerfully bidding adieu to civilized behavior for the day. No wonder he's upset. Bryan tailgaters fell woefully short of topping the Chesney-related carnage, although accomplishing that feat probably would have required a cholera outbreak.

(Chesney fans set an exceptionally high standard for gross-out conduct in one of the most revolting days in city history. It wasn't that they left 22 tons of garbage in their wake that impressed and repulsed people all across the country; it was the fact that so much of the tonnage was intermingled with human waste.)

To their credit, many Bryan tailgaters took the term many people used to describe them -- white trash -- a tad too literally. They turned the parking lots surrounding the stadium into their own personal landfills.

They could have discarded their empty cans and bottles into the thousands of free trash bags provided in the lots. They preferred to casually toss them to the ground.

Those breaches of etiquette were admirable, but there were only 10 citations for public urination. That's disgraceful.

The obvious overreliance on Port-A-Johns indicates that far too many people were concerned with modesty. Not enough remained focused on the goal of garnering the city unfavorable national publicity.

Other incident statistics from the Public Safety Department are equally unimpressive: A mere eight arrests, only two of them for aggravated assault; six disorderly conduct citations; 15 fights; 154 emergency calls for police service; and only 34 people requiring transport to medical facilities.

Was this a country music event or a Brightside Academy day care kids' outing?

It's miraculous that such banal proceedings were featured on many newscasts across the country. It's incredible that a video of an inebriated tailgater doing a comical sidewalk face-plant went viral on the Internet.

We can't count on being that fortunate in the future.

The problem, as I see it, is that many of the folks who flooded the lots as early as 8 a.m. to alcoholically prepare for the 6 p.m. show probably weren't from Pittsburgh. They had no sense of civic pride, no vested interest in promoting the city as an uncultured Appalachian outpost.

They selfishly just wanted to binge-drink for 10 hours before the concert.

What needs to happen for the city to move forward from what accurately is being described as a travesty? The drunken, slovenly and occasionally violent types need to be made aware that maintaining Pittsburgh's status as a national laughingstock every time a big country music act comes to town is their solemn responsibility.

Perhaps one of their own can be persuaded to help spread that message.

Think the face-plant guy might be willing?

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320- 7857 or


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