By Adam Swift
The inaugural series of concerts held at the Stage at Suffolk Downs held two weekends ago went off with minimal complaints and complications, according to city officials and the Suffolk Downs developers.
Tom Oâ€™Brien, the managing director of Suffolk Downs developer The HYM Investment Group, appeared before the City Council Monday night to update it on traffic mitigation plans for the 8,500-capacity outdoor venue. He also gave a rundown of the logistics of the June 16 and 18 concerts, which won general approval from the councillors.
â€œAt Suffolk Downs, weâ€™re taking an abandoned horse racing track, it is 162 acres, and we are trying to turn it into a place where people will live, where people will go for a meal, and where people will work,â€ said Oâ€™Brien. â€œQuite frankly, music was always a part of the history of Suffolk Downs in addition to horse racing, so we liked the idea of trying to bring music to the site as a way to make it an attractive place that people want to be.â€
Perhaps most famously, The Beatles took the stage at Suffolk Downs in 1966 on their final tour.
In preparation for the opening of the concert venue, Oâ€™Brien said HYM and promoter Bowery Present worked closely with state and local police in Boston Revere, as well as MassDOT and the MBTA, on traffic mitigation for the venue.
â€œWe were able to come up with a traffic mitigation plan that I think worked well,â€ said Oâ€™Brien. â€œThere is always work to be done to make adjustments as we go through it, but it was in place for the concerts that were two weekends ago.â€
The Friday night concert saw 3,734 people attend, with 705 vehicles parked on site, and another 250 rideshare vehicles dropping off and picking up attendees, Oâ€™Brien said. He said the parking lot was cleared out in 30 minutes after that concert, although he added that there were some hiccups because of a road closure on Revere Beach Parkway due to police activity not associated with the concert.
On Sunday night, the crowd was more than double the size, with 7,903 attendees and about 1,600 parked cars. Oâ€™Brien also noted that about 1,750 people used the Blue Line on Sunday night to reach the venue.
â€œFrom our perspective, we really only received one noise complaint, which came from the East Boston side, from the Revere side, we havenâ€™t received any noise complaints,â€ said Oâ€™Brien. â€œWe generally heard from people that on Friday night, some of the traffic might have been affected by a police action that was going on elsewhere in the city.â€
Oâ€™Brien also noted that while traffic coming out of Suffolk Downs could only turn right onto Rte. 1A into Revere, State Police were on hand to guide the traffic out of the venue and turn it back towards Boston as quickly as possible.
Councillor-at-Large Marc Silvestri attended the Sunday night concert, and praised HYM and Bowery Presents for its traffic mitigation plan, as well as for how well run the venue was.
â€œIt was an amazing event from start to finish,â€ he said.
Silvestri said the security provided by local and state police, as well as by private security, was top notch. He also praised the venue for passing out free water to concert attendees during the Sunday show.
â€œYou donâ€™t see that, when you can sell a bottle of water for four dollars, just to hand it out,â€ said Silvestri. â€œIt was one of the best, most professional venues Iâ€™ve ever been to in my life.â€
Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky said he was impressed that there were no backups on Revere Beach Parkway, and that he had not received any complaints from his constituents who live near Suffolk Downs.
Police Chief David Callahan said local police worked together with HYM and its professional traffic engineers, as well as other agencies, on the traffic mitigation plan.
â€œHYM had a very professional plan, probably one of the best plans I have seen in 30 years,â€ said the chief.
Callahan also noted that Revere Police made no arrests as a result of the concerts, and that there was no trouble with the venue or the events.