THE NEWS that an 18-year-old man allegedly raped a woman at a Keith Urban concert at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield last week points to the need for tighter security at large venues as well as stricter control of alcohol consumption.
The incident was reprehensible on many levels: Onlookers reportedly stood by and recorded the alleged assault with cellphone photos and video until a female concertgoer finally pushed the man off his victim. It’s hard to believe that all those onlookers were simply gathering evidence, since it was in their power to stop the attack.
This was a concert — attended by some 18,000 people — that clearly got out of control. Emergency responders reportedly treated 46 people suffering from alcohol-related illnesses, and 22 were taken to area hospitals. More than 50 people were taken into police custody. Globe columnist Beverly Beckham, who was at the concert, reported seeing one young person after another being helped by EMTs, and others “staggering around bumping into things, passing out in the bathroom, sitting on the ground, too unsteady to stand, pale and glassy-eyed.” This was a case where mass intoxication created a dangerous situation that led to an alleged crime.
In the past, the Xfinity Center security staff has been given high marks by local police. Over nearly 30 years of operation, it has seen all manner of musical events. Live Nation, the owners of the venue, know in advance what kind of crowd they’re going to get on a given night, and can plan accordingly. And Xfinity staff is known to check bags carefully and not allow any kind of open container — even water bottles — inside. But tailgate parties in the parking lot are controlled loosely, if at all. Many concertgoers enter the Center gates already intoxicated.
The Xfinity Center and Live Nation should impose tighter controls in the parking lot. And they should also increase their security inside. There’s no excuse for anyone to feel unsafe watching a concert from the lawn of a ticketed event.