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June 25th, 2013
07:15 PM ET

Kenny Chesney fans destroy property, start fights at concerts

Cleaning crews in Pittsburgh are still recovering Tuesday, after an estimated 50,000 Kenny Chesney fans attended his concert at Heinz Field Saturday, leaving behind a pile of destruction and garbage.

"The Kenny Chesney crowd is the most difficult crowd for our staff to work with of any of the events of the year," said Merrill Stabile, President of ALCO Parking.

"It's just going to be a really fun, very energetic, very fast, probably pretty loud night of music," Chesney told CNN in 2012, perhaps underestimating his fans' energy levels.

Most of Chesney's shows are day-long events, where tailgating is encouraged.

Unfortunately, a parking lot brawl was just one of at least 10 large fights that broke out at the Pittsburgh stadium Saturday, where more than 70 people were either arrested or cited for their behavior.

"We had a hard time getting police, a lot of police didn't want to work this event," said Stabile.

Police are shying away after similar fights broke out at Chesney concerts in 2009 and 2012. Just this month, a concert in Indiana resulted in 68 arrests.

Yet, Chesney's music is all about guitars, and tiki bars, and a whole lotta love. He has a reputation as the likable country star who once played for former President George W. Bush at the White House.

The muscle shirt-wearing wonder has sold more concert tickets than any other artist in the last ten years, 9.8 million since 2003. And his fans, known as the "no shoes nation," are paying for trashed scenes like the one left behind at Chesney's annual summer concert tour.

But with new images of arrests and fighting accompanying the tour, negative opinions are gaining momentum, even spawning a "Ban Kenny Chesney from Pittsburgh" Facebook page this week.

"Despite Kenny Chesney's historically wholesome image, here are fans that not necessarily are even number a one Kenny Chesney fan, but just may be interested in the party, more or less," said Blaine McEvoy of Rolling Stone.

Despite the thousands that are letting their blues melt away, responsibly, the rowdy few have drawn the most attention.

"You know even 20% of 50,000 people getting out of control is pretty bad," said Stabile.

But the revenue from stadium-filling concerts is great, and Chesney is scheduled for at least 20 more shows nationwide.

"When the event finally does come, there's a massive release of energy, which in a group-think kind of setting can spin in a negative direction," said McEvoy.

So just like the crying Beatles fans, the hysterical Elvis lovers and, well, anybody at Woodstock, Chesney mania may have its regrets, but the music lives on.

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