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Starlight Scrubs 3 Free Concerts Over Police Cost

September 19, 1986|GREG BRAXTON | Times Staff Writer

Three Sunday-afternoon concerts scheduled at Burbank's Starlight Amphitheatre this month--by the Lawrence Welk All-Stars, the Les Brown band and the Tommy Dorsey band--have been canceled because of what the Starlight's operator called exorbitant costs for police protection and traffic control.

Tim Pinch, who has managed the troubled city-owned outdoor theater since November, said he had been told by police that he would have to provide for eight motorcycle officers by paying an estimated $1,352 a show.

"I asked the city officials to revise that estimate, and they said no," Pinch said. "I just can't afford that kind of money.

"Nothing could be safer than a Les Brown concert on a Sunday afternoon. I don't understand why the city is gearing up for Run-D.M.C," Pinch said, referring to a "rap" group whose recent Long Beach concert was marred by a gang riot.

Pinch said he told the city that he expected 1,000 people to attend each concert. "The city approved a graduation ceremony for 3,500 people up here recently, and there were only two officers for that," Pinch said.

He said the city has "backed down somewhat" and is going to make him pay only for two police officers at a total cost of $310 for each of three other free big-band concerts, which are scheduled for Oct. 5, 12 and 19.

Police Lt. David Newsham, traffic division commander, said he had worked out a general formula estimating the number of officers needed for Starlight audiences ranging from 1,000 to a sellout crowd of 6,000.

"We just want to guarantee safety and mitigate the impact on the residential communities which surround the Starlight," Newsham said. "We used to have a lot of problems with people parking below the theater, urinating on yards and walking through backyards."

'Worst-Case Scenario'

Newsham said his estimates on the number of officers needed had not been based on the specific artists or expected crowd. "We would prepare for the worst-case scenario, and then make adjustments once we get experience on what to expect up there with Mr. Pinch," he said.

Problems ranging from lackluster ticket sales to attempts by city officials to bar rock artists considered disruptive have plagued the Starlight in recent years. Since Pinch has been manager, only two commercial events have been staged, both by outside promoters--a benefit concert and a gospel show.

Richard Inga, director of the city's parks and recreation department, said that more than 10 police officers were assigned to the gospel concert over the Labor Day weekend after Pinch said that 2,500 to 4,000 people would attend. However, only 150 attended, Inga said.

"I'm making every effort to live up to my side of the contract, but I'm not getting a lot of breathing room," Pinch said.

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