Vail Daily letter: We blew it
Ryan Summerlin April 23, 2014
I’d like to take some time to discuss last Saturday’s melee, now that we’ve all had a week to process it. First, I’d like to address the comments from the Vail Town Council. “I just thought I was on the wrong planet.” “ …. And they were driving BMW’s, they’re our future customers.”
I’d like to remind everyone that we elected these people to the council. Remember Christine Arakelian’s comments that circulated nationwide? This is no different from that. I’m sorry, but this is the problem that the younger locals have with our year-round older residents. Your elitist, exclusionary attitudes are what drive people away from Vail. I want people from all walks of life to feel welcome here. Just because these kids aren’t driving Mommy and Daddy’s BMW does not make them lesser people. It doesn’t make them undeserving of seeing free shows, either. I certainly don’t drive a BMW, and I live and pay taxes here just like they do. So, I will not let my voice be silenced.
Saturday was my 37th STS9 show. Saturday was also the first time I’ve seen such a mess at a show. So, let’s break this down and put the blame where it really lies: With Vail.
You can imagine my surprise when I woke up and saw that my favorite band would be headlining Spring Back to Vail. I was ecstatic. And then I realized it would be free. Listen, free is great. I love free. You love free. However, free also means increased demand. STS9 regularly sells out Red Rocks and other large venues with ticket prices around the $50 range after fees, etc. This was a disaster waiting to happen. My solution? Tickets! I understand free is a big deal, but selling 8,000 $5 tickets would’ve done a ton of good for crowd control. If proper research had been done, this show would’ve never been free.
Now let’s look at the next problem. The Vail Daily is equally at fault. The article about expecting big crowds? Man, if that didn’t create urgency I don’t know what else would’ve. Now you have everyone and their cousin trying to get there fast to make sure they get in and get to see the show. Compound the fact that you have one (there were two, but no one let anyone know about the second entrance) entrance for 8,000-10,000 people? Seriously? And because of that confusion, the crowd rushed the gates because they were frustrated with the lack of planning. Now, I’m not saying that the fans shouldn’t be faulted for rushing the gates, but I think we all know that crowds act differently as a crowd as opposed to the individuals in the crowd.
Doors were at 6. I was one of the first people in, and Polish Ambassador had already taken the stage and was playing music! So now you have 8,000 people in line wanting to get in, they don’t see the line moving, yet they can hear the opener performing. This is not a good start.
How about those bathrooms? Let’s see, we should put 30 port-a-johns in the very back of the show. For 8,000 people. That’s one bathroom for every 267 people. Having the public restrooms outside of the venue locked was an awful oversight as well.
Finally, let’s make the bar be in the middle of the venue. Whoever decided this was a good idea should be banished from ever planning a concert or show again. If you want a drink you go to the middle of the dance floor? Remember those 8,000 people? Where are they supposed to go? The placement of the bar and the bathrooms created the perfect storm of people shuffling around and bumping into one another. In effect, it was a sardine show, just as we suspected. Not to mention, there may be music coming from the stage, but people also want to be able to see the light show. This was nearly impossible with a 40-foot bar island right smack in the middle of the venue.
So to close it out, Vail should really take a look in the mirror. This was an incredible opportunity to show the rest of Colorado that we’re not a bunch of stuck-up elitists, and we blew it. Proper research and planning could’ve prevented all of this. I have never seen such a terrible job of event planning done for the last two electronic acts (Big Gigantic and STS9). Vail can make this successful, but first they have to do the research, and second, we need people that look at this as opportunity to provide happiness to the people that visit our valley instead of looking for the next 1 percent of big spenders.