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Council May Place Agent on Warning for Arena Violence

September 04, 1986|RALPH CIPRIANO | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — A City Council committee has recommended putting the booking agent for the Long Beach Arena on notice that another riot at that facility may mean the end of the firm's contract with the city.

Council members Evan Anderson Braude, Warren Harwood and Jan Hall--who compose the committee that oversees the arena--Tuesday proposed sending a letter to Facility Management Inc. of Southern California informing the firm that "enough is enough," City Atty. John R. Calhoun said.

The committee recommended that the council tell the company that "we are now going to be really taking a very close look at your performance. We don't expect any further incidents which would give cause to a start of the default process," Calhoun said.

The proposal to put the arena's booking agent on notice will go to the full nine-member council on Tuesday.

40 Hurt at 'Rap' Concert

At an Aug. 17 "rap" concert, about 40 people were injured, three seriously, after rival youth gangs battled inside the jammed, 14,000-seat arena. More than 100 police officers had to be summoned to quell the disturbance, after youths broke furniture for weapons and then beat and robbed others indiscriminately.

Also on June 13, three people were seriously injured and one man died in accidents during three heavy-metal rock concerts at the arena by Ozzy Osbourne.

"We are very concerned about the events that have happened under the direction of FMI and we want to make sure that they do not happen again," said Braude, who proposed putting the booking agent on notice.

Michael McSweeney, director of marketing and public relations for Facility Management, said, "We will continue to work with the police and the Fire Department and our corporate parent, Facility Management Group Inc. of New Orleans, to make sure we uphold our promise to the city which is to endeavor to weed out events that we feel could present a threat to the health and safety of concert-goers."

On Aug. 18, the firm announced in a formal statement that it would no longer book at the arena "any attraction whose patrons have caused or who have a propensity to create situations likely to cause injury to other patrons."

Firm Must Provide Guards

According to a 1982 contract between the city and Facilities Management, the firm is responsible for providing security guards and controlling the crowd at all arena concerts, said a report to the council from Carolyn S. Sutter, general manager of the city's Tidelands Agency, which owns the arena land. The five-year contract is scheduled to expire next year, but contains an option for nine additional years.

According to Sutter's review of the contract, Facilities Management "has the exclusive right to provide special staffing at the (arena) and cannot be required to employ any city personnel to perform any special staffing services," such as crowd control and arena security.

In reviewing the Aug. 17 riot, Hall also asked Calhoun to research whether gang members could be barred from attending the concert for wearing gang colors, which, she said, is a warning that they intend to brawl.

"It is a warning, like face paint on an Indian," Hall said. Calhoun said he did not know whether the city could take such an action.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, council members received but did not comment on a report on the riot from Police Chief Charles B. Ussery.

Police Find No Fault

In his report, Ussery reviewed police actions in supervising the concert and found no fault with his department.

"The Police Department critiqued the handling of the problem meticulously," Ussery wrote, adding that "I am satisfied that this police problem was handled in an exemplary manner."

Police have said they did not have officers stationed inside the arena because they did not expect a riot, even though four similar concerts elsewhere in the nation erupted in violence. In the four concerts--in New York City, Pittsburgh, Pa., and St. Louis, one person was killed, 42 were injured and 43 were arrested.

At Tuesday's council meeting, Pastor Bobby Bible Eagle of the Christian Brothers Church in Long Beach told the City Council that the arena riot occurred because youths were turning to drugs and alcohol, and "not receiving the quenching powers of the Holy Spirit."

Bible Eagle, who wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the warning, "Repent," told council members that he has attempted to proselytize at arena concerts but has been asked to leave by arena employees.

"Don't run off the Christians," Bible Eagle said.

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