Jiffy Lube Live tailgating ban sparks backlash
UPDATE 7:30 p.m.: Saturday: ABC7's John Gonzalez was there tonight for the first concert since the tailgating ban was announced. Watch his report in the video above.
Some fans are upset at the decision to ban tailgating at the Jiffy Lube Live concert venue in Bristow, Va.
The 25,000-capacity venue, formerly known as the Nissan Pavilion, has banned tailgating in its parking lot effective immediately.
Frequent concert-goer Chris Gellner has created one of a handful of Facebook-based boycotts that had attracted over 6,300 "likes" by Friday night.
"Tailgating is... It's in my blood,” said Gellner, who lives in Manassas. Gellner even met his girlfriend while tailgating at Jiffy Lube last year.
"It's not about drinking,” said Kelly Hunt, Gellner’s girlfriend.
In addition to the tailgating ban, owners of the entertainment amphitheater this week also announced a "no-tolerance" policy toward alcohol.
Concerns have increased over the past few years because some patrons would tailgate for hours in the sprawling parking lots at the Bristow amphitheater. Noise, trash and alcohol-fueled crimes provoked many complaints from concert patrons and neighbors. Four people have been killed in drunk-driving crashes after leaving the venue in the past two years.
“We've definitely seen enough accidents and drunk driving,” said resident Frances Meeker.
Hunt and Geller defend their love of tailgating, saying they just want to have fun. "We're very responsible,” Hunt said of her tailgating behavior. "Underage drinking has been the problem," adds Gellner.
Live Nation, which owns Jiffy Lube Live, says it got input and positive feedback from the community and police. In a written statement, the company said Friday night, "The policy is in place for the safety and courtesy of all of our guests."
Resident Stephen Purwear enjoys tailgating, but says if the new policy reduces drinking and driving, he's all for it. “I would like to see no accident” at the venue in the future, he said.
In announcing the ban, the company wrote on its Facebook page: "The safety of the fans is of paramount importance and we have an ongoing commitment to work with the local police department on all shows to ensure a safe environment for all our fans. As part of this commitment, it has been determined that it is in the best interest of the fans and their overall experience at the venue to not allow tailgating."
The new rules will apply May 21 at the WMZQ-fest. The parking lot will open two hours before the show starts. Tickets will be required for a vehicle to be allowed into the parking lot areas.