After 2020 Interruption Due to Pandemic, Live Music Returns to Mansfield’s Xfinity Center | Coronavirus
After a year of coronavirus where only birds sing in the trees, music will float once again in the Great Woods when country artist Luke Bryan takes the stage at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield on Saturday night.
Bryan, an “American Idol” judge, is one of nearly two dozen concerts scheduled in a truncated 2021 concert season cut short by health restrictions imposed by COVID-19.
In April, Bryan missed the first show of the season “Idol” after being infected with the virus.
“I think we have a lot of good shows coming up,” said general manager Jason Sandoval.
Sandoval is the venue’s new general manager and also manages Live Nation’s Leader Bank Pavilion in Boston.
With health restrictions no longer in place due to the state’s high vaccination rate and low COVID-19 infections, Xfinity – with a capacity of 19,900 – will be allowed to sell concerts.
And it’s music to the ears of Mynor Aguilar, manager of Alberto’s restaurant down Xfinity Road on Route 140, and other local business owners located near the venue.
After a year of no business from concert fans, Aguilar said he looks forward to being very busy this concert season.
He says classic rock bands like Chicago that attract an older audience are great for business.
“They want to come in and have lunch or dinner and then go to the concert,” Aguilar said.
Younger audiences come in as well, but usually just to grab a few drinks before a show, Aguilar said, rather than putting money in for a meal.
“Country concerts are generally good for us, the businesses here,” he said, adding that country fans are spending a lot of money as well.
Like many businesses after the pandemic, Aguilar said he was having difficulty hiring waiters and cooks. He said there may be nights when they are understaffed during a concert.
“We will try to manage,” he said.
Wayne Matthews, supervisor at Xtra-Mart, located near the entrance to the concert center, is also looking forward to concert season.
“It’s going to be good for us,” Matthews said.
Country music fans frequently come to the gas station and convenience store, which is also home to a Dunkin ‘Donuts, Matthews said.
But concerts in general are good for business and something Matthews said he looked forward to after the concert season was canceled last year due to the pandemic.
“Any gig, we’re always very busy. Lots of dates, ”Matthews said.
In neighboring Foxboro, country superstar Garth Brooks announced his very first concert at Gillette Stadium last week. So far, the October 9 show is the only one at the stadium this season, but it will attract fans flocking to the Route 1 companies.
The Xfinity Center currently has 23 shows scheduled this season with the possibility of two more, Sandoval told the Mansfield Selection Committee on June 16.
The concert list has a mix of something for everyone with performers from every decade from the 1960s.
Besides Luke Bryan and Chicago, other bands performing this year include Steely Dan with Stevie Winwood, Hall & Oats, Jimmy Buffet, the Dave Matthews Band, The Dead and Company, Lynyrd Skynyrd and KISS.
There are also newer artists like rappers Pitbull, Lil Baby and Trippie Redd, in addition to hip-hop lineup for the JMBLYA festival.
The Xfinity Center, then known as the Great Woods Performing Arts Center, opened in 1986 with 15,000 seats before expanding to 19,900.
Typically there are around 35 shows per season, which end in September, but this year’s season will end in October.
In addition to providing music to fans, the facility generates tax revenue for the city. Live Nation, the owners, pay $ 235,972 in property taxes, according to the city.
In addition, he paid $ 500,000 for police details and $ 180,000 for fire and emergency services, according to a 2015 study commissioned by Live Nation. The company did not provide updated figures for this story.
Job fairs organized
In addition, it employs around 600 to 700 part-time workers. Like many other companies operating after the pandemic, Xfinity is looking to hire 200 people and has 60 so far, Sandoval told some members of the board.
Live Nation held job fairs on the site, mostly recently on Tuesday.
If it is not possible to hire enough people, Sandoval said, existing staff will be required to be available to work overtime.
Key positions in security, parking, front desk and early-stage are all filled with seasoned employees who know the place and the city, Sandoval said.
He called the veteran employees “aces in the place”.
Concerts were originally scheduled to start in August, but the state relaxed health restrictions earlier, allowing the venue to open in July.
In order to prepare for the 2021 season, Sandoval met twice a week with public safety and health officials and also met with Norton Police Chief Brian Clark.
“He worked hand in hand not only with our public safety professionals, but also with the public health department, to prepare for this new concert season,” General Manager Kevin Dumas told the Board of Directors .
Sandoval, who also previously worked at Staples Center in Los Angeles and Barclay Center in New York City, said he discussed police staffing levels at concerts.
“Safety is our number one priority, just like any other live concert venue,” said Sandoval.
A new police complex costing “tens of thousands of dollars” has been built on the site and computer technicians have fixed the computer network problems that will allow the police to obtain the computer access they need, according to the report. Sandoval.
When asked about the division of his time between Xfinity and Leader Bank, Sandoval said he only has six contested concerts scheduled.
In his absence, operations manager Sara Shevlin will be the person city officials contact, Sandoval said.
“I’ll be there for as many gigs as possible,” Sandoval said. “I can be there 80% of the time. “
Asked about the alcohol service inside the establishment and the illegal consumption of alcohol in the parking lot, Sandoval said he had worked in establishments where he had interrupted the alcohol service during concerts.
He said Xfinity management had been diligent in the past and would work with police to enforce the law against alcohol consumption in the parking lot.
In response to a question from the board about promoting restaurants in downtown Mansfield, Sandoval was receptive and said it was something he would like to see.
“I love this idea,” he told the board.
Responding to the board’s concerns about complaints about noise at certain concerts, Sandoval said Xfinity officials will monitor noise levels and maintain the 11pm curfew on concerts.
Sandoval said he also discussed traffic issues with Mansfield Police Chief Ron Sellon and Norton Police Chief Brian Clark.
Traffic, especially during sold-out concerts, has always been a concern but became more complex a few years ago with the advent of traffic apps on smartphones.
Sellon discussed the issue with officials at Waze to prevent the app from sending cars into residential neighborhoods as alternate routes to the concert hall.
Mansfield and Norton Police have also blocked some roads, with the exception of local traffic.
In Norton, Clark said concert patrons were redirected to Reservoir Street through local neighborhoods to get to Route 140. But the police chief said the route was actually worse for those who thought it was would be faster.
“It’s actually easier if you stay on Route 123 to get to Route 140,” Clark said.
This year, concert fans hoping to hit the Roche Bros. on Route 140 to procure tailgating supplies will be disappointed. The supermarket closed last year.
In the past, Clark said, Jimmy Buffett fans would congregate in the Roche Bros. parking lot. before the concert, were shopping and tailgate before the concert.