Security boost set for X Games concerts
Aspen police want more security at Wagner Park during two nights of concerts planned in conjunction with the 2006 Winter X Games at Buttermilk.After last years mayhem, when back-to-back nights of live music at the park lured the X Games crowds to town, police asked that the concert venue be fenced in this year to create security checkpoints.Concertgoers will be checked for glass bottles as they enter, much as X Games spectators submit to searches as they enter Buttermilk during the games.We were really concerned about bottles being thrown around and subsequently broken, Police Chief Loren Ryerson said. We asked ESPN and the Skico to ramp up security and do their best to keep glass bottles and containers like that out of the park.The park was littered with broken glass after last years concerts a Friday night show with John Legend opening for Ozomatli, followed by the Roots on Saturday night. An estimated 8,000 to 10,000 fans packed the park for the Roots.They [bottles] were being thrown all over the place people getting hit with them, Ryerson said. We didnt want to have a repeat of that.The citys Parks Department doesnt either. Staffers spent much of the spring picking up the shards, including one all-out effort on a day in April.We had, besides the Parks Department, another 40 to 50 or so people from City Hall [plus Skico personnel] basically on our hands and knees, picking up glass, said Tom Rubel, parks operations superintendent. We dont want to repeat that again.The Aspen Skiing Co. and ESPN have agreed with the concerns and the need for the stepped-up security, said Ryan Miller, event marketing managerfor the Skico. The concert organizers will have a private security force checking for bottles as spectators enter the park.A plastic fence probably the same one that encircles the park for the Aspen Food & Wine Magazine Classic will be used.Its still a completely free concert open to anyone and everyone, Miller stressed.The citys Special Events Committee, made up of representatives from various city departments, along with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, has already approved the planned Jan. 27 and 28 concerts during the games. The events will require a noise variance, as well. The City Council is expected to take up that application on Nov. 28.Miller said he expects an announcement of this winters acts shortly after all of the necessary approvals are in place.Its going to be very similar to the type of acts we had last year, he said.Organizers plan to start the concerts at Wagner at 10 p.m. this time, however, instead of 9:30 p.m., giving people more time to get from Buttermilk to town after the days competitions end at 9 p.m. Last winter, the crush of fans trying to get back to Aspen quickly overwhelmed the bus system, and some people struck out for town on foot, in the dark, along Highway 82.Local elected officials have made it clear they dont want a repeat of that scenario with the upcoming games, either.Janet Urquharts e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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