Sunday, July 09, 2000

Metallica fans jam Speedway

By Jeff Carlton and Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A security guard removes a concertgoer from a mosh pit.
(Mike Simons photos)
| ZOOM |
        SPARTA, Ky. — More than 50,000 heavy-metal music fans jammed the Kentucky Speedway on Saturday for one of the largest music events in Tristate history.

        Fans stood shoulder-to-shoulder during the eight-hour Summer Sanitarium Tour event in the inaugural concert at the new speedway.

        They stayed even though headliner Metallica did not perform because lead singer James Hetfield was sidelined with a back injury.

        By early evening, authorities reported several minor traffic accidents and 17 ar rests, mostly for public intoxication and disorderly conduct. One person was injured after he fell about 20 feet.

Fans surt above the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd.
| ZOOM |
        More than 300 security personnel circulated among the fans, along with about 60 troopers from the Kentucky State Patrol.

        Authorities permitted moshing — people dancing in a tightly packed area in front of the stage — and crowd-surfing, passing audience members over their heads.

        “We're not going to make them sit down or cross their legs,” said KSP Sgt. Jerry Hall. “We just don't want people getting injured.”

        Saturday's event came off a lot more smoothly than the June 17 track opener, when many speedway attendees were turned away because of muddy parking lots and backed-up traffic.

        Nevertheless, traffic on Interstate 71 toward this small Gallatin County town ran slowly at times.

        Lines to enter the venue stretched several hundred yards into the gravel-lined parking lots, and once inside fans had to battle more lines for restrooms, beer and souvenirs.

        Promoters told fans they could use their ticket stubs for a Metallica concert on Aug. 2 at Buckeye Lake in Columbus.

        “I've seen (Metallica) twice already so it doesn't hurt my feelings too bad,” said fan Greg Franklin, 23, of Harrison. “I'm glad they're coming back (for the free show), that way I don't feel like I wasted my money.”

        General admission tickets were $65.

        The three remaining Metallica members played with such heavy-metal and alternative rock groups as Korn, Kid Rock, Powerman 5000 and System of a Down.

        Promoters did not have a final attendance tally Saturday, but estimated more than 50,000.

        The biggest area concerts happened at Riverfront Stadium. In 1989, the Rolling Stones drew 55,000 people. In 1978, 51,855 people showed up for the Eagles, and Steve Miller Band.


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