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Drunken Chesney fans leave 48 tons of garbage in Pittsburgh

| Sunday, July 3, 2016, 11:06 a.m.
Piles of trash litter a Heinz Field parking lot on Pittsburgh's North Shore on Saturday, July 2, 2016, after a concert by Kenny Chesney.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Piles of trash litter a Heinz Field parking lot on Pittsburgh's North Shore on Saturday, July 2, 2016, after a concert by Kenny Chesney.
Piles of trash litter a Heinz Field parking lot on Pittsburgh's North Shore on Saturday, July 2, 2016, after a concert by Kenny Chesney.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Piles of trash litter a Heinz Field parking lot on Pittsburgh's North Shore on Saturday, July 2, 2016, after a concert by Kenny Chesney.

Seven people were arrested and 37 were taken to a hospital during Saturday night's Kenny Chesney concert at Heinz Field, authorities said.

Four people were issued citations, and one was given a summons arrest. Ninety-nine people were treated by paramedics, mostly for dehydration, intoxication and related injuries.

When the concert was over, Pittsburgh city crews worked until sunrise Sunday to clear an estimated 48 tons of garbage from the stadium's parking lots and along the North Shore.

This year's concert went over more smoothly than past ones, officials said.

“I think we've seen major, major improvements,” said Guy Costa, Pittsburgh's chief operations officer.

The infamously rowdy country music concert attracted about 40,000 people from across Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New York, officials said. They estimated 15,000 people showed up to tailgate outside in the parking lots and along the North Shore before the show started.

“We've made a lot of improvements,” Costa said.

The city made several policy changes after 70 people were arrested, 150 were treated by paramedics and 30 tons of garbage were removed from the area after the 2013 concert.

The city provided 200 portable toilets and distributed free trash bags, and Heinz Field staffers turned away visibly intoxicated ticket holders at the gates.

“I think that screening helped us out as well,” said Wendell Hissrich, the city's public safety director.

Next year, city officials plan to issue littering citations to tailgaters who don't pick up after themselves.

“A lot of folks are wonderful and they do cooperate,” Costa said. “But there are some folks who don't cooperate, and we have some concerns about that.”

Pittsburgh police Chief Cameron McLay said his officers witnessed an “incredible” amount of alcohol being consumed between noon and 8 p.m. Saturday. Each of the arrests and citations had to do with public drunkenness and “alcohol-fueled” offenses, he said. Officers had to break up fewer fights this year than they have in previous years.

“For the number of people and the amount of alcohol, those are low numbers,” McLay said.

Officials declined to disclose how many uniformed and plain-clothes officers were present Saturday, saying only that many were on hand and stationed in each parking lot.

Revelers began arriving on the North Shore about noon, officials said. Those with concert tickets were required to be inside the park by 7 p.m., and those without tickets were ordered to leave at that time.

The scene was a stark contrast to the one Friday night at the Billy Joel concert at PNC Park. Officials estimated that show attracted more than 36,000 fans, but public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said she didn't recall anyone being ejected.

“It was a different crowd” at the Chesney concert, Costa said.

Elizabeth Behrman is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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