PNC Center Talks Strategy

Underage drinking during concerts at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., will be the topic for state and local officials March 18th at a community forum.

State Assemblywoman Amy Handlin and reps from Live Nation, New Jersey Turnpike Authority (which owns the 17,500-capacity venue), state police and others will hear suggestions from the public as well as outline plans for the upcoming concert season.

PNC Center officials launched a well-publicized crackdown on underage drinking at the Live Nation-run shed in May in response to underage drinking problems following a Gwen Stefani concert.

Despite the increased presence of uniformed and plainclothes officers at the site, alcohol-related arrests continued at concerts, including Incubus, O.A.R., and WKTU Beatstock, reportedly numbering 273 in August alone.

NJTA officials ordered a complete ban on alcohol in the parking lot following two deaths and 83 arrests during an August 16th Ozzfest tour stop. Of the 83 arrests, 59 reportedly were for underage drinking.

Handlin said the forum will let residents know of other strategies in the works to ensure PNC Center’s live music events remain safe.

"Live Nation has been extremely receptive to my idea for this forum. They recognize the importance of direct communication with parents and other community members," Handlin told the Asbury Park Press.

"They understand that for our children to be safe, there must be a partnership between all of the stakeholders: parents, law enforcement, authority officials and Live Nation included."

Live Nation already works with the NJTA and state police to maintain strict protocols inside and outside the venue regarding alcohol sales.

John Huff, LN senior VP, told the Holmdel Independent that the company will continue to do its part.

"The community needs some reassurance going into the 2008 concert season and, I believe, the community has a right to expect everyone with a responsibility at the PNC Bank Arts Center to be extensively looking ahead," Huff said. "This forum is an opportunity for direct communication. Given what happened last year, this is a good first step."

Huff also told the paper that LN is in the process of developing a fan code of conduct to hand out at concerts.