Who Fans Cause Only a Few Headaches, Reopening Door to Concerts at Stadium

Times Staff Writer

Despite concerns by the Padres, the Chargers and the San Diego Police Department, the manager of San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium said Wednesday that Tuesday night's concert by The Who was a "big success," reopening the door to rock events at the stadium.

"We were all concerned, but it went very well," said stadium manager Bill Wilson. "You learn from history, and we really pulled this one off. The field is in good shape. Some yellow discoloration will result, but there will be no permanent damage."

Wilson said the final attendance count was 40,042, which should bring the city $180,000 to $190,000. The city's largest one-day payoff show was a 1981 concert by the Rolling Stones. That one drew more than 70,000 fans and netted more than $250,000.

Wilson said he hopes that the Stones will return to the stadium this fall as part of the group's national tour. The band would "probably sell out," he said, and bring a bigger payoff than the city realized eight years ago.

"But, right now, we don't have a window that fits their schedule," he said. "Nothing is definite, but it's not looking great. I sure hope we can do it, though. It would be great for the city, and with the field in its football configuration, we could have more seats, meaning 58,000 to 60,000. I think we'd sell out pretty quickly." (The stadium now limits on-field seats to about 8,000, with 52,000 unobstructed seats in the stands, eliminating the possibility of the Stones' previous draw of 70,000.)

Other Numbers

Despite those figures, the San Diego Police Department was concerned Wednesday about numbers of its own. Police spokesman Bill Robinson reported:

* 13 fans were taken to San Diego County Jail, where they were booked on felony counts dealing mostly with possession of narcotics or possession for sale.

* 54 people were issued misdemeanor citations, including minors in possession of alcohol and misdemeanor possession of narcotics.

* 78 people, all adults, were detained and transported to the San Diego County Detoxification Center.

* 26 people were ejected from the premises.

* 24 people received on-field interrogations from officers.

* Non-traffic enforcement contacts made by San Diego police officers totaled 182.

"If this were an athletic event, we would be troubled," Robinson said. "But, because this was a concert, I guess the figure is not unseemly."

Robinson said 116 police officers were on duty at the stadium, the cost of which will be reimbursed by the concert promoter.

In addition, 350 private security officers worked the concert, Wilson said.

"I don't think the Pope has better security than this thing had," Wilson said.

He added that he wasn't troubled about the police statistics, adding, "That might have been because the police had 116 officers working. Maybe that's not a bad deal. Maybe they kept a lot of kids from getting in trouble later on. Maybe the arrests were good."

Minor Injuries

Wilson said four people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries. The most serious accident involved a woman who broke her leg while trying to sneak into the concert--she fell from the top of the stadium wall. A band stagehand suffered internal injuries in a fall from a scaffold Wednesday morning, but is now listed in good condition, Wilson said.

The first-aid contingent enjoyed a relatively easy night, contrasted with the dozens of injuries reported at the Rolling Stones' '81 show and The Who's last appearance at the stadium six years ago.

Activity that night was so heavy and damage to the field so extensive that an unofficial ban on concerts requiring field seating was put in place and wasn't lifted until Tuesday.

Fans were allowed to sit on the field Tuesday night, but the 8,400 seats were sold on a reserved-seat basis and ticket-holders were confined to their chairs. At the '81 and '83 shows, "festival seating" was permitted, meaning everyone was allowed to sit, stand, dance or stomp on the unprotected turf.

Wilson said the 150,000 square feet of "geotextile" that covered the field Tuesday night, which cost $100,000 and was paid for by the promoter, worked "extremely well, mainly because we doubled it."

"We took our lesson from the people at the Oakland Coliseum. They had an Amnesty International concert up there last year, just before the major league (baseball) playoffs. They said it worked great, and we think it did for us too."

In Shape by Friday?

Nevertheless, Padres' president Dick Freeman sounded circumspect when asked Wednesday about the field. The Padres' game with the New York Mets on Friday night is the next stadium event.

"We're not going to know too much until we go down on the field and look closely at it ourselves to see if it's playable for Friday night," Freeman said. "Yes, we have concerns, but we expect it to be in major-league quality for our game Friday night."

Jack Teele, director of administration for the Chargers, who have nine games remaining at the stadium this year, said the condition of the field was so bad after The Who show in '83 that it violated the city's contractual agreement with the team--which is to provide a "playable" surface.

"I recall that I personally walked the field after that one and found huge nails, glass, all sorts of crud," Teele said. "Of course, it was not covered, as it was (Tuesday) night, so I hope that will make a difference. But, if you had one of these rock shows once a month, there's no way the field could stand it."

Wilson said the nearly $200,000 profit for the city from the show comes from 10% of gross ticket sales; 30% of concessions (the other 70% goes to Service America Corp., the concessionaire), and 97% of parking revenues (with the remaining 3% going to Ace Parking, which manages parking for the stadium).

"I think that's money we can't pass up," Wilson said.

He said the proceeds go into the city's general fund and can be used for such expenditures as beefing up the local police force, as well as for some stadium improvements.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
57°