After at the Comcast Center, Mansfield administrators and police are looking at a disturbing situation for the town.
The main question seems to be how can illegal drug use and underage consumption and overuse of alcohol be curtailed at the venue.
These two deaths at the Comcast Center mark the first time anyone has died because of drug or alcohol consumption, but the problem has been around since the early days of the venue when it started as Great Woods.
“Back then, we had Hell’s Angels,” Mansfield police chief Arthur O’Neill said.
O’Neill said that the amount and variety of chemicals at the venue have resurfaced since the 1970s, including LSD, PCP, marijuana and now Ecstasy.
Mansfield selectman George Dentino agreed that there is no way to stop mind-altering substances in the venue entirely, as legal drugs such as aerosol, Robitussin and salvia are readily available, let alone alcohol and other substances that can be easily transported.
“They can bring in aerosol cans; they can smoke bananas, there’s a lot of things they can do,” he said. “We can’t eliminate it, but if we can deter it, to some extent, and [if we do this] there is a percentage of the population out there that we have not brought into the venue with the stronger things. “
He said more methods to curtail and deter such use, however, could be put into place. He said that discharging people tailgating in the venue without a ticket would help, as well as drug detecting dogs.
“[One idea] was to publicize the fact with signs before you ever enter the parking area through the entry gates saying that alcohol, drugs, etc. are not allowed on the property and anyone found in possession of or utilizing such will be asked to leave or arrested,” he said. “I think it gives people the thought when reach the point when they see the sign, they have to make a decision… Do you want to go in there and gamble that you’re going to be able to pass through or do you want to turn around and go and dump it somewhere, alcohol or drugs. “
Dentino added that drug-detecting dogs may also weigh heavily on that person’s decision to try to get in with illegal substances.
Last year, the tour got into trouble with the Mansfield populace because of noise complaints. The issue was that the many speakers and stages made for so many directions of sound, there was little in the way of containing the music to the venue. Mansfield selectmen chair Olivier Kozlowski said that this year the noise issue didn't change.
“I was there from about 8:30 to 9:30 that night too,” he said. “This was obviously before we knew anything about anybody overdosing, but it sounded like the sound remediation efforts they put into place didn’t work. I think perhaps even then there was hesitation from the Comcast Center’s side as to whether they were going to have these folks back.”
Kozlowski added that it’s a tricky situation to exert prior restraint in deciding which bands or acts can and cannot play. O’Neill said he agreed.
“I wouldn’t welcome this particular tour back,” O’Neill said. “It's a thorny subject when you’re talking about keeping a particular show out of the venue, because you’re talking First Amendment when you get into that. On the other hand, if they don’t come back, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”
The Identity Tour continues to Atlanta Aug. 2 and no other incidents have yet been reported.