Fans in denim shorts, tank tops, flannel shirts and cowboy hats began to fill North Shore parking lots early Saturday under cloudy skies and mild temperatures for a summer concert at Heinz Field by rising star Luke Bryan.
“This is my favorite day of the year,” said Andrea Savage, 22, of Peters, who attended the country music concert with seven of her closest friends. “We got our beer last night and got here at 11 a.m. so we'd have all day. I only wish this day was longer.”
Despite a show expected to draw an estimated 50,000 people, the pre-concert revelry was more subdued, people said, than last year's Kenny Chesney summer concert, during which fans left behind 45,000 to 60,000 pounds of garbage in North Shore streets and parking lots. Last year, Pittsburgh police arrested or cited 73 people, and paramedics treated 150 in and around Heinz Field.
This year, concertgoers got trash and recycling bags and appeared to be using them.
"We have people using the trash bags, and I think everybody is going to be pretty civil,” said Ted Speeney, of Dunbar.
Police had a heavy presence before and during the concert, which began at 6 p.m.
According to Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Sonya Toler, 37 people were issued non-traffic citations (20 for scalping, one public intoxication, six disorderly conduct and 10 public urination).
Toler said at least seven people were arrested on charges ranging from aggravated assault to public intoxication.
Toler said there were about 15 fights and more than 100 911 calls for police and medic services.
“It was much better organized. There are garbage bags and a lot more security, which I think is important,” said Bonnie Ridgeway, of McDonald.
“People are still drinking and having a good time, but it doesn't seem as crazy as previous years,” said Mike Radcliffe, 41, of Morgantown, W.Va. “That being said, there will always be people who drink too much.”
“It's definitely cleaner than it was last year. People aren't just throwing their trash on the streets. They're using the bins and bags,” said Ryan Callahan, 25, of Delmont, Westmoreland County.
Erik Carlberg of Mt. Washington was selling cowboy hats at the corner of Reedsdale Street and Tony Dorsett Drive. Prepaid parking passes that fans purchased with their concert tickets helped control the rowdiness, Carlberg said.
“It's a little bit less rowdy, but definitely in full spirit,” he said. “Compared to previous years, the crowd is younger and business is slower.”
Officials lined the sidewalks with 120 portable toilets, up from 80 last year. Concert-goers complained this still was not enough. Lines extended several people deep, and people were seen using the woods behind the D.L. Clark Building.
“So many people, too many people – we just need more port-a-johns,” said Julie Truong, of Bellevue.
“This has all the excitement and fanfare of a Steelers playoff game, but there's nothing on the line, no final score to worry about,” said Michelle Pavlik, 38, of Morgantown. “It's really just a lot of rednecks listening to music and having a good time.”
Under new Alco Parking Corporation guidelines, fans were asked to leave the parking lots no longer than one hour after the show.
New rules also banned glass containers, tent and furniture. Fans also weren’t able to park limousines, RVs or motorhomes in the parking lots.
Channel 11's Joe Holden reported the parking lots were nearly spotless by Sunday morning.
Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.