When the state shut down “non-essential” businesses in March 2020, few of us reckoned how “essential” those businesses really were.
None more so than the entertainment venues that made our little corner of Southeastern Massachusetts a mecca for music fans.
We pointed this out on these pages just a year ago, commenting on a story about how the silencing of these sites impacted not only music lovers but all the businesses that depended on their patronage along with the communities they called home.
“Xfinity Center, née Great Woods of many years ago, would draw upwards of 20,000 paying customers to its outdoor amphitheater in Mansfield, from relatively mellow Parrothead fans of Jimmy Buffet to hardcore rap and metal band followers.
“Gillette Stadium, after a fall filling its 60,000 seats and nearby parking lots with sometimes disruptive members of Patriot Nation on any given Sunday (or Monday or Thursday) would draw similar sized crowds to Foxboro for such megastars as Taylor Swift.”
However, when many of us thought of such places at all it was mainly in the context, not of the revenue they brought or the entertainment they provided, but in terms of how disruptive they were to their home communities.
As we said back then, the aftermath of the concerts and other events at those spots was “as predicable as a summer heat wave.”
“Neighbors of the venues would complain about noise. Town officials would lament the disruption of traffic as fans arriving and departing clogged local streets (and sometimes trespassed on private property.) Police departments would be occasionally overwhelmed with protective custody cases as patrons overindulged in their intoxicants of choice.
“In recent years, traffic issues were exacerbated by navigation apps as they directed drivers away from traffic jams, only to create new bottlenecks on streets never designed to handle such volume.”
Over the past year, with Xfinity and Gillette largely silent, certainly some neighbors have enjoyed the peace and quiet. For stores, restaurants and gas stations though, and for towns and public service agencies, the silence was more than deafening, it was expensive.
As Sun Chronicle reporter David Linton points out in today’s Page A1 story, the owners of Xfinity, Live Nation “pay $235,972 in real estate taxes ... In addition, it paid $500,000 for police details and $180,000 for fire and emergency services, according to 2015 study commissioned by Live Nation,” along with providing hundreds of seasonal jobs for local residents.
So will the return of concerts mean the return of the associated woes?
Xfinity management say they have been meeting with local law enforcement regularly and devoting more resources to the problems to better prepare for the crowds they hope will come flocking back this summer.
Area chiefs have worked with the navigation companies to make sure the advisories to their subscribers don’t mean hazards for residents of suburban neighborhoods.
We trust those declarations are not just “noise.”
We hope that last year’s hiatus has given the area a better sense of what places like Gillette and Xfinity mean locally and have given everyone a chance to better prepare for a more tuneful future.