A Lot of Pot Smoking, No Arrests at Casper Events Center At Concert
Here is the supreme irony, and the new reality for every venue hosting modern musical acts.
When you have a popular musician, and a large crowd, there are just some things you will have to live with.
And those facts of life today are well known to entertainers, promoters and certainly, audience members.
A City of Casper ordinance prohibits smoking inside public buildings.
State and federal law prohibits the possession and use of marijuana.
Both were widely ignored in the arena of the Casper Events Center during Snoop Dogg's "Puff Puff Pass" performance on Wednesday.
Some who attended the concert told K2 Radio that performers Warren G and Snoop Dogg smoked marijuana on stage and crew members passed joints to the audience nearby.
They also said they saw pot use and smelled it throughout the arena.
But neither performers nor audience members were disturbed because city officials and the Events Center manager said they acted within the scope of their duties.
Add to that the impracticality of stopping the show, or the onstage activities, or even arresting large numbers of people, and discretion becomes the better part of valor.
Then there are the contractual limits drawn by the city's relationship with the new management, Comcast Spectacor (Spectra). The city owns the Events Center, which generates about $8 million a year for the local economy, but costs the city itself about $1 million a year to subsidize.
In September, the city signed a contract with Comcast Spectacor to assume the management, concessions, daily operations, booking of events, and event security -- with the intent to reduce the city's subsidy.
As part of the security, Spectra hires off-duty Casper police officers, Police Chief Jim Wetzel said.
The six officers at the Snoop Dogg concert Wednesday were responsible for public safety on the Events Center grounds, parking lots and concourses, Wetzel said.
They checked the restrooms to see if anyone was smoking, made three arrests for assault and battery, and drove home three people who were drunk, he said.
But their duties ended at the entrances to the interior of the arena, Wetzel said.
Spectra provides security personnel inside the arena, but they do not have arresting powers, he said.
Brad Murphy, the Events Center Manager, said everybody had a good time at the concert.
"I think it was a real safe environment," Murphy said. "It was a well-run show."
As for the marijuana smoking on stage and off, that comes with a Snoop Dogg concert, he said. "It's part of the culture, and we try to follow the law as best we can."
In addition to the officers and private security, the Casper Police work with Spectra to insure the evening is safe. Bags are checked and now, patrons are subject to a metal detecting wand as they enter the Events Center.
And in fairness to Spectra, any attempt to curb the actions of a popular act, or even worse, to begin arresting people in the audience, makes it that much harder to book other musical acts who may want to avoid the hassle.
And then it’s the Casper audience who suffers.
City Attorney Bill Luben and Assistant City Attorney Wallace Trembath crafted the contract with Spectra.
One of the provisions of the contract says, "... that Manager will comply with all Laws applicable to the Facility. "Laws" in the contract are defined as "federal, state, local and municipal laws, statutes, rules, regulations and ordinances."
The wording about "laws" in the contract probably cannot be stretched to include the behavior of those who perform, Luben said.
Spectra's compliance with laws in this instance would include following safety codes such as providing adequate fire extinguishers, he said.
If any laws were broken, they were done by the performers and audience members themselves, he said. "The manager wouldn't be responsible for that."
Responses to the original article on the Snoop Dogg concert indicate a large number of folks agree with the live and let live policy.
And for those who don’t, it is simply what any promoter has to deal with to bring the most popular entertainers to the city.
This story has been edited and revised from its original version.