UB's Fall Fest security procedures revamped with location change

Concert moved from Baird Point to Alumni Arena due to chance of thunderstorms

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No one wants to waste $163,700.

To make sure none of the entertainment budget for Fall Fest is wasted, the Student Association has opted to move the fall edition of the bi-annual concert series to Alumni Arena in case of inclement weather.

The concert, featuring Big Sean, Jeremih, Isaiah Rashad and Tink, will be held Saturday, Sept. 12.

The relocation of the concert has caused a scramble among SA, Student Life and Public Safety officials, who have had to re-evaluate their safety policies from an outdoor show to an indoor one.

According to The Weather Channel, there is a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms on Saturday. If lightning does strike within the vicinity of an outdoor concert, the entire venue must be evacuated for safety purposes and the show cannot continue until after 30 minutes of lightning-free weather.

SA President Minahil Khan said the decision was not an easy one.

“I wanted to have a Baird Point Fall Fest so badly,” Khan said, “but the risk of wasting all the work we put into Fall Fest because of a thunderstorm, it just didn’t make sense.”

Due to the transition to an indoor venue, SA has discontinued ticket sales to the general public so most of the UB undergraduate students who wish to attend will be able to do so.

SA Entertainment Coordinator Marc Rosenblitt said 1,500 tickets were originally available to non-UB students and 5,000 spots were reserved for students. Before Ticketmaster closed online sales, 575 tickets were sold to the general public, Rosenblitt said.

The remaining 925 tickets will be added to the undergraduate seating, which brings the total number of undergraduate spots up to about 6,000.

SA’s announcement that Fall Fest was being moved indoors was subtle – it changed the location of the event on Facebook to Alumni Arena. In fact, some people found out when Ticketmaster, previously the only place for non-students to get a Fall Fest pass, discontinued ticket sales to the general public.

This means that any non-student who was planning on attending Fall Fest but hadn’t already bought a ticket, no longer can.

Jake Kinley, a sophomore pharmacy major, said some of his friends were trying to get tickets for the concert – but now they won’t be able to come.

The only place for non-students to get tickets now would be to buy a ticket from any of the 575 people who already bought tickets.

Nick Cashman, a sophomore pharmacy major, said he is going to Fall Fest no matter what. Cashman said he would have gone to the show even in the rainstorm.

“It should just be a free-for-all,” Cashman said. “Let everyone in.”

Besides ticket sales, the shift from outdoors to indoors has also brought on a series of shifting security concerns for SA, Public Safety and all the smaller groups involved in concert safety.

Rosenblitt said that he had to re-plan all of the emergency strategies with Chris Bartolomei, assistant chief of police and special events coordinator for public safety.

According to Rosenblitt, there are contingency plans for any and all emergency situations, including evacuation, situational hazards, electric problems, structural flaws and on-campus emergencies.

Out of everyone, Rosenblitt is one of the best educated on what it will take to make the venue secure, as he’s been involved in UB’s event staff since 1988.

“For every event, there has to be a plan on file for any and all possible emergency situations,” Rosenblitt said. “There are so many moving parts and people involved, our priority is to protect everyone.”

The day of the concert, there will be anywhere from 100-150 volunteers working the show. There will also be four lieutenants in charge of volunteers and an event staff manager with each lieutenant to ensure things run smoothly. There will also be ambulances and emergency stations, per university policy.

In addition, each year SA contracts with a security company to provide high-tech security essentials, such as metal detectors and crowd control.

Normally, SA contracts with the same company as UB Athletics: Contemporary Services Corporation (CSC).

This weekend, however, the CSC staff will be travelling with Athletics for a football game at Penn State, so SA chose to use the United States Security Associates.

Apart from handling the nuances of security tech, a U.S. Security Associates member also be put with each lieutenant and event staff manager to ensure safety from every aspect of the show.

From top to bottom, the event staffers have to be ready for anything.

Despite the difficulties of managing it all, public safety rarely has any problem with crowd control or security. The worst cases in recent years, Bartolomei said, have been dealing with students who are too drunk or on too many drugs.

“First aid and overdoses, mostly alcohol-related, are very common. These typically result in medical treatment at the scene or ambulance transport to the hospital, and a campus judicial referral if they are a student,” Bartolomei said.

But actual crime, Bartolomei said, is rare.

He said that is it not unusual to have zero criminal incidents at concerts and sporting events.

“The difficulty of the event comes from having to manage so many people at once while still being ready to act on any emergency situation,” Rosenblitt said.

Fall Fest, like SA, is funded by undergraduate students through the mandatory student activity fee of $104.75 per semester. All undergraduate students will get into the concert for free with a student ID.

Brian Windschitl is the senior arts editor and can be reached at brian.windschitl@ubspectrum.com.