Tempe Examining Concert Policies

The city of Tempe, Ariz., is considering changes to crowd-control and events-management policies following a recent crowd crush at the Sept. 24-27 Summer Ends Music Festival that left nine concertgoers with injuries.

The Sept. 26 incident at Tempe Beach Park wasn’t caused by a stampede, officials said, noting concertgoers began to accumulate in front of the stage that evening in triple-digit heat to see reggae band Rebelution, eventually creating a domino effect that pressed some fans against a barrier. Assistant Tempe Fire Department Chief Paul Nies told the Arizona Republic emergency workers examined 300 people that night for various issues including heat exposure and dehydration but “our best estimate is that we transported nine people that we’re fairly certain got caught up in that surge and were injured as a result.”

Promoter Tom LaPenna of Lucky Man Concerts said that following the incident, he worked with fire and police officials to make adjustments to medical and security plans for the following day’s event featuring Kanye West.

“The first part was to review security/medical plans at the main entrance where fans lined up hours before gates opening,” LaPenna said in a statement. “Here we added a shade structure, a typhoon cooling system, Tempe Fire Department medic staff and water cart. These all assisted in keeping fans cooler prior to gates opening. Second part, we added additional water stations, hydration misters and added security in the barricades.” The promoter added that he’s used Tempe Beach Park for events since 2005.

“This is the first time we have had a situation like this occur and will use this experience to plan for all future events. With regards to fights and scuffles during the event, a couple did occur but nothing major. Overall, we feel all parties worked efficiently together to lessen the impact of the heat related issues that were present yesterday.”

City officials are scheduled to examine events that occurred at the festival in coming days in order to develop improvements to crowd-control and events-management expectations.

Tempe City Manager Andrew Ching told the paper he’s also asked the city’s Internal Audit Office to examine the permitting process for special events to identify areas for improvement.

“What occurred on Saturday at the festival was unacceptable on many levels and cannot be repeated,” Ching said. “It fell far below our standards as a city. We can and will learn from this to make our events-planning process even stronger and safer in the future.”

LaPenna, whose upcoming Monster Mash festival is slated for Oct. 30- Nov. 1, is also expected to participate in discussions with the city to review public safety requirements before a permit is issued for that event, the Republic noted.