The detainment of hundreds of concert-goers in Foxborough over the weekend was part of a planned response to crack down on underage drinking at the sold-out show, police and stadium officials said.
The show of force – there were more than 250 state and local police deployed at the New England Country Music Festival – resulted in what some law enforcement officials said was the largest number of arrests at Gillette Stadium in years.
In all, authorities detained 342 people in and outside the concert, which featured singer Kenny Chesney and drew nearly 56,000. Of those, Foxborough police arrested 92 people and State Police arrested 23 people – most for underage drinking or trespassing. The others, most of whom were detained for rowdy behavior or being drunk, were released.
Today, there was such a long line for arraignments at Wrentham District Court that many of the hearings were pushed back until tomorrow.
“Clearly, at least in the last 10 years, this was the most arrests we’ve seen after an event at the stadium,” said David Traub, a spokesman for the Norfolk district attorney’s office.
The crackdown at Saturday’s show came after police faced similar problems at last year’s concert and two women, Alexa Latteo, 19, of Mansfield, and Debra Davis, 20, of Milton, who had attended the festival without tickets, died that night when their car struck a tree off Route 1 in Wrentham.
At last year’s concert, authorities detained 76 people and some of them faced minor-in-possession charges.
The last time so many people were arrested at a concert held at the stadium was in 2000 at the WBCN River Rave, where police became nervous when dozens of women bared their breasts on video screens and the bands howled in despair about life. The Globe reported then that authorities arrested 126 people at event, which broke the venue’s record of 90 arrests set at a Grateful Dead show in the late 1980s.
Foxborough Police Chief Edward T. O’Leary said the mass arrests were necessary as a check on the rowdiness during last year’s event.
“It was necessary for the safety of the fans that didn’t get drunk,” he said. “In 2007, we had significant violence in the parking lot of the surrounding area for people without tickets, and we wanted to avoid that this year.”
He added: “Underage alcohol use is a significant problem in suburban communities. It’s believed that the two underage people who crashed and died last year were using alcohol.”