BEND, Ore. - (Update: Adding video, comments from venue, Bend Fire Dept.)
Bend's Les Schwab Amphitheater, which bills itself as "Central Oregon’s premier outdoor concert venue," announced Monday it is implementing several new safety policies for concertgoers in 2018, including the possible use of metal detectors and a ban on the use of any blankets or mats by concertgoers.
The Bend amphitheater's moves come as concert venues reassess safety in the wake of the recent Las Vegas mass shooting and other violent incidents.
Venue director Marney Smith said officials watch what happens at other venues around the country. But regardless of the recent tragic shooting, she and her staff, their production company and local agencies are constantly having a conversation about safety measures.
"In step with venues across the nation, the new guidelines will help ensure visitor safety and overall satisfaction," venue officials said in a news release. "These moves build on past implementations of safety practices at the amphitheater, streamlining and better defining new, permanent policies for all events."
“Each one of our new policies was carefully considered,” Smith said. “Our primary goals are to ensure that every guest at our venue has a safe and wonderful experience.”
To speed up entry and ensure everyone’s enjoyment and safety, Les Schwab Amphitheater said its 2018 safety policies will include:
• Be prepared for inspection and additional security as you enter the facility. The use of metal detectors, wands and/or physical pat down may be implemented. Should you bring a bag, it will be searched and may slow down your entry time. To speed up entry times, carry only items that are allowed and necessary for enjoyment of the show.
• Low-profile chairs are allowed at the majority of shows at the LSA. Make sure to check the information page for the show(s) you plan you plan to attend.
• No blankets or yoga mats of any size are allowed at the LSA for any show.
• Concert hosts will be available at each point of entry and throughout the venue to assist and ensure you have the best concert experience possible.
A complete list of venue and per-show policies is available on the website.
Smith said the new policies were developed by working closely with the venue’s concert production company, Monqui Presents, and local agencies such as the Bend Police and Bend Fire departments.
“In this particular case, it’s not about fire. It’s about panic,” said Steve Stenkamp, a fire inspector for the Bend Fire Department. “So we want to make sure that people can exit the property in a quick fashion, and also that we have access into the property, in the event there’s an emergency.”
The new policies are for ticketed concerts and do not involve the variety of other events, from Pole Pedal Paddle to Brewfest, that make use of the facility, which has seen upwards of 8,000 concertgoers for acts such as Phish, Dave Matthews and Alabama Shakes.
Smith told NewsChannel 21 they have been using security wands at concerts for the past couple of years.
“We definitely look at the crowds that are coming to a show to help determine what our policies are,” she said. “We know that a Slightly Stoopid show, for example, the crowd will act differently than a Pink Martini show, and our team is prepared for that.”
"Every year, we review and improve our safety measures for the concerts," she said.
As for the blanket ban, Smith said, "It's the minority of people that were bringing blankets, but they were holding up security lines for everyone as they were checking for size, hidden items."
"By eliminating blankets, security can focus time and energy on more important aspects of safety at the gate and get people into the amphitheater to enjoy the concerts more quickly and efficiently," she added.
For a complete list of events at Les Schwab Amphitheater and the Old Mill District, visit www.bendconcerts.com.
About the Les Schwab Amphitheater
The Les Schwab Amphitheater is Central Oregon’s premier music venue, providing a beautiful outdoor riverfront space for concerts, festivals, sporting events and more. Opened in the historic Old Mill District in 2002, the Amphitheater was named in honor of a legendary Central Oregon businessman Leslie Schwab. The venue accommodates approximately 8,000 patrons for some of the biggest names in entertainment, the Bend Brewfest in August and other community events. Learn more at www.bendconcerts.com.