News Column

Mayor conducts summit meeting over big-event costs, cleanups

July 1, 2014

By Robert Zullo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



July 01--More than two dozen officials from city and county government, Pittsburgh's three major professional sports teams, parking lot operators, and stadium and exhibition authorities, among other entities, met for a summit today with Mayor Bill Peduto on how to better manage crowds, trash and policing of big events.

The meeting at city hall came in the wake of a June 21 concert by country musician Luke Bryan at Heinz Field that required a massive police response and resulted in arrests, piles of trash and the ire of city officials.

"He wants the city to keep holding these large events," said Tim McNulty, Mr. Peduto's spokesman. "He just wants to do it in a way that's safe and clean and doesn't unduly tax the police bureau and public works. ... And everyone in that room agreed that can happen."

City officials say they are still compiling how much the concert cost taxpayers for policing and cleanup, though Mr. Peduto's chief of staff, Kevin Acklin, previously estimated the bill at "tens of thousands of dollars."

The goal is to avoid a repeat of the Bryan concert, during which police said they responded to more than 300 incidents, including 15 fights and a hundred 911 calls involving medics that led to 34 hospitalizations, or a similarly rowdy Kenny Chesney concert last year.

At least 25 officials were in the room with the mayor today to help head off future problems as the city prepares to host country singer Jason Aldean at PNC Park and the Manchester City-A.C. Milan soccer game at Heinz Field at the end of the month, Mr. Acklin said.

"It was a very productive meeting," Mr. Acklin said, adding that the mayor wants to see reduced tailgating hours, the elimination of overnight boating access to the Allegheny River on the North Shore, and better sharing of costs of cleanup and off-duty officers for events. "These are events that generate a lot of revenue for the city and a lot of people like to go to, but we have to do it in a way that respects the city and the costs the taxpayers pay."

Jimmie Sacco, executive director of stadium management at Heinz Field, called it a "good discussion" as he headed for the elevator.

"We're all working together," he said.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald also said developing the new framework for big events will be a cooperative effort.

"We want these events to happen in a safe and clean way, and that's what we're going to try to do," he said.

Robert Zullo: 412-263-3909 or rzullo@post-gazette.com. Twitter: @rczullo.

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(c)2014 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)


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