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No more 'free' concert viewing above Red Butte Garden

By Geoffrey Fattah | Posted - Aug. 29, 2011 at 2:57 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — Attention concert freeloaders: the University of Utah is announcing that the party is over.

Citing fire danger, endangerment to native grasses and plants, risk of injury to people on the rough terrain, and potential revenue loss, the U. has announced that it will be fencing off a one-half-acre area on the hillside directly behind the Red Butte Garden amphitheater to the public.

"We had to take the step of preventing people from gathering on the hill behind the amphitheater after a scare from the recent nearby wildfire that forced the garden to close," Red Butte Garden director Greg Lee said. "As the popularity of our concerts has grown, more and more people have been gathering on the hillside, now numbering in the hundreds. The issue with artist contracts aside, the real reason for the closure is the concern that someone will get hurt or start a fire."


The Red Butte concert series has steadily grown in popularity over the years and has attracted around 60,000 patrons with 24 concerts this season. The venue has also drawn some big-name musicians, including Sheryl Crow, Lyle Lovett, K.D. Lang, Gypsy Kings and the Steve Miller Band.

Just before the Fourth of July holiday flames scorched the hillside above Red Butte Garden, taking the effort of more than 90 firefighters from Salt Lake City, Utah BLM and U.S. Forest Service to bring it under control. The cause of the fire, according to investigators, was traced to an unattended campfire, which was located in an area above the area to be fenced off.

The area is a popular spot for hikers and bikers due to the network of trails — some which tie into the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

The Red Butte concert series has steadily grown in popularity over the years and has attracted around 60,000 patrons with 24 concerts this season. The venue has also drawn some big-name musicians, including Sheryl Crow, Lyle Lovett, K.D. Lang, Gypsy Kings and the Steve Miller Band.

Red Butte Garden spokeswoman Bryn Ramjoue said the area being fenced off will not cut off hikers or bikers from accessing trails. Ramjoue said most concerts are usually around 93 percent sold out, adding it has not been a matter of overflow that has caused people to gather on the hillside.

Currently signs have been posted along the main access points to the hillside area notifying people who have used the area, "as a free alternative to the paid concerts," garden officials said.

Officials say the fence will be erected at the close of the 2011 concert season. The last two concerts will be held this Thursday and Sunday.

Email:gfattah@desnews.com

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