By STEVEN NALLEY
With a budget for Bulldog Bash 30 percent larger than in 2010, Mississippi State University Student Association President Rhett Hobart said his organization has more than doubled the number of security personnel it has hired for Bulldog Bash 2011.
In August, Hobart said the new budget is nearly twice as large as in 2009 and draws from two sources of funding, both of which have seen increases: First, sponsorships from businesses and individuals in Starkville and throughout Mississippi, and second, a portion of the 2-percent food and beverage tax, also allocated for other projects benefitting the city and university.
At that time, Hobart said he could not disclose the name of the private security firm MSU-SA would hire for the event, because the deal was still in the contracting stage. Now, Hobart said he can confirm the MSU-SA has hired the same firm as in 2010, Event Operations Group.
“There will be adequate security personnel in all concert, staging and production areas to ensure a safe and secure environment,” Hobart said. “The numbers are based upon the recommendation of Event Operations Group and the MSU Dean of Students office.
“We will have an EMT and ambulance on site in the case that any emergency situations were to arise,” Hobart added. “We will continue to take all safety measures which have been taken in the past to provide a safe and secure concert for all in attendance.”
Hobart said Bulldog Bash’s crowd has grown by a few thousand each year, and this time, he expects a crowd of 35,000.
“Having the event in November has given us additional time to prepare and plan for the event so that we are able to create the best event possible for Mississippi’s college town,” Hobart said.
SPD Capt. John C. Thomas said at least 15 SPD officers will work throughout the day at Bulldog Bash. For a crowd of 35,000, that approximates to one officer for every 2,333 people. Thomas said normal shift personnel — one lieutenant, one sergeant and 6-7 officers — will patrol throughout the rest of Starkville.
“I have had numerous meetings with the MSU Student Association and we have planned this event together throughout the past few months,” Thomas said. “Having worked every single Bulldog Bash since its inception, I can attest that this MSU Student Association has worked with the police department as well as any in the past. Their security will be primarily for stage and backstage security, while the Starkville police department handles crowd control, street closures and enforcing police matters that may arise.”
Thomas said the following streets will be closed for Bulldog Bash:
u University Drive between Paige Avenue and Muldrow Street will be closed at 2 a.m. on Friday morning for setup of the main stage.
u University Drive between Colonel Muldrow Avenue and South Nash Street will be closed at noon, along with Maxwell Street from University Drive to Cotton Row.
u University Drive between North Nash Street and the MSU campus will be closed at 5 p.m. along with Maxwell between University drive to Lummus and Muldrow between University drive and Lummus.
“All streets will remain closed until the event is over,” Thomas said, “and stages are taken down usually around 3 a.m. or later.”
Thomas said attendees should stay in well-lit areas with people they know instead of wandering alone.
They should also take care not to consume excessive alcohol.
“People should also secure their vehicles when parking (and) familiarize themselves with where everything is located, such as SPD Mobile command (at University drive and Camp Avenue), (the) medical tent (and the) information tent,” Thomas said.
Hobart said the MSU-SA, at the request of many concertgoers and businesses, asks attendees not to bring coolers or glass into the concert area.
“Audience members should remember to use good judgment, be aware of their surroundings, and exercise caution as they would at any major event,” Hobart said. “Keep in mind that there will be increased flow of pedestrian traffic in and out of the Cotton District.”