The Columbus concert question: To pat or not to pat?

Andrew King

Columbus concertgoers may have noticed a more hands-on approach to security in recent months. Over the last year, PromoWest's four locations—Express Live, Newport Music Hall, A&R Music Bar and The Basement—have patted down attendees at shows ranging from large outdoor events to small indie performances.

The impetus for the change came in November 2015, when 130 people were killed in a series of terror attacks, including at a music venue, in Paris, France. “We kind of sat down after that happened and said, ‘We should maybe take more precautions, given the events going around in the world,'” says Britton Dove, general manager of the building containing A&R Music Bar and The Basement. “We decided as a whole staff that in 2016, we would start implementing pat-downs and bag checks for every show.”

While Dove acknowledges that the precaution may be more necessary for large Express Live-type shows than the 300-capacity Basement, he says PromoWest wanted to be consistent across all four of its venues.

For Columbus' larger concert venues, however, pat-downs aren't quite enough. Both the Schottenstein Center and Nationwide Arena use metal detectors for all their shows—the industry standard for big arenas, says Mike Gatto, general manager of the Schottenstein Center. “Safety of our guests is paramount,” he says.

“At the end of the day, this is entertainment,” Dove says. “You want to go to a concert and have fun, you don't want to worry about, ‘Am I safe here?' I think that's where everything stems from.”