Friday, June 10, 2016
Foxboro Board Misfires On Guns N' Roses
This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on June 10, 2016
Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2016 11:00 pm
The Foxboro Board of Selectmen either needs to recognize it has a major entertainment venue within its borders, or tell the Kraft Group it has to limit activities at the stadium complex to sporting events and daytime music.
Until they do, they will continue to look petty, foolish and provincial - as they did last week in refusing a request for the musical group Guns N' Roses to play 25 minutes over the 11:15 p.m. curfew during their Gillette Stadium concerts next month.
Stadium representatives sought an extension to 11:40 p.m. on the Tuesday and Wednesday nights for the venerable hard rock band. Most fans of the group - around since 1985 - might struggle to stay up that late, but will get home a little earlier now because Foxboro's town leaders are watching out for them.
Well, it is actually the neighbors on North Street and the surrounding area that selectmen purport to be defending here. Although they have in the past extended the curfew for other musical events (such as Taylor Swift), those were on weekends. And apparently selectmen believe people who live in the general vicinity of Gillette Stadium can tolerate 25 extra minutes - but only on weekends.
Newly elected Selectman Mark Elfman joined his fellow board members in the unanimous decision, stating "We've got neighbors, friends and townspeople who have to get up and go to work the next day."
Selectmen are certainly right to want to make sure neighbors are protected as much as possible during stadium events.
That must be why they allow North Street to be turned into a virtual private way for high-end ticket holders during games and concerts. And it must also be why they supported controversial townwide parking bans that are really only aimed at preventing property owners around the stadium from cashing in and parking cars during events.
No doubt, some neighbors appreciate the actions of the board. That 25 minutes might well be important to them, given the noise and traffic they endure on a regular basis. And there are probably those in town cheering selectmen for standing up to stadium officials and putting some teeth in their previously flexible curfew.
Neighboring Mansfield imposes an 11 p.m. curfew on the Xfinity Center, a much smaller venue that also features big-name musical acts. They also have instituted a system of fines for those acts that run late.
But it is hard to see this Foxboro decision as anything but an overreaction to a simple request. Having a rock band performing until 11:40 p.m. on a midsummer night, in an area full of bars and clubs open until 1 a.m. or later, is hardly a major deal to a neighborhood that has had a stadium in its midst for more than 40 years.
Maybe selectmen want to appear firm in their licensing procedures. One local resident told the board before their decision that "a curfew should mean something."
Is that really the big issue here? Do selectmen or the town somehow lose credibility in the eyes of the public if they don't rigorously and firmly stand by an 11:15 p.m. curfew? Or is it more important to work with officials on concerts that annually put hundreds of thousands of dollars or more into the town coffers?
It should be pointed out there are Patriots games that routinely go past 11:15 p.m. during the football season. And they are held on Sunday nights, Monday nights, and sometimes even Thursday nights.
Now granted, they do not come with constant loud music being continuously blasted for long periods of time. But they do feature 68,000 screaming fans, just as much traffic and a much younger and often rowdier crowd.
Bringing big-time entertainment and the dollars that accompany it into Foxboro is big business. While Foxboro is chock full of small town charm, it has to have a flexible attitude when it comes to situations involving matters relating to the Kraft Group and the world-class events they host in town. Not to mention the economic benefits these events bring with them.
Now, that does not include granting every request they make. But 25 minutes on two nights in July is not where the board should be flexing its licensing muscles.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.