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Rock History 101: The Who Concert Disaster – 12/3/1979

on November 21, 2010, 12:14pm
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The Who’s concert disaster was perhaps a bigger tragedy in the sense that so much of it could have been prevented through better planning – especially between Coliseum staff and the local police force. A lack of communication between the event staff and concert attendees also contributed to the problems. Today, this tragedy is certainly not the worst of its kind (the Great White show had far more deaths); however, at the time, this was the deadliest concert disaster in American history. The events at Riverfront even became the subject for an episode in the second season of WKRP In Cincinnati entitled “In Concert”.

Immediately after the events of December 3rd, Riverfront Coliseum did away with its festival seating policy and the city of Cincinnati placed a city-wide ban on such ticketing. Over the following six months a comprehensive study was conducted in hopes of preventing such failings and tragedies from occurring in the future. The Task Force on Crowd Control and Safety presented its 90 page document entitled “Crowd Management” in July 1980 and to this day remains a “landmark document in the field of crowd management.” With a single exception being made for Bruce Springsteen in 2002, Cincinnati maintained its ban on general admission seating until 2004. In August 2004, the Cincinnati City Council overturned the ban, citing that having it in place put the city at a disadvantage for booking concerts.

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