BILLINGS-The “Dutcher Rule” was in full effect just a little over 72 hours until one of the Metra’s biggest concerts.
Time was ticking, and officials didn’t have a bomb-sniffing dog as requested by the Foo Fighters’ management for the band’s Saturday concert.
“The Dutcher Rule is: get it done,” said Ray Massie, MetraPark marketing director. “Don’t tell me why it’s hard, just do it.”
The rule named after Bill Dutcher, Metra’s general manager, is a mindset to ensure the show goes on.
So calls began going out. The rule must be enforced.
A dog group from Helena was unavailable for Saturday, the search then went nationwide.
Robert Trimble, an event coordinator MetraPark, worked the lines and nailed down a deal with a group from Atlanta, Ga., but at a price. Cost for services rendered and travel would wind up around $7,500.
But the “Dutcher Rule” trumped cost; the band required the extra safety measure on top of the full metal detectors that the Metra purchased for $50,000.
“There was no specific threat. It is just standard procedure for the Foo Fighters on their North American tour,” said Massie.
Mother Nature had poor timing, peppering the south with snow and delaying the dog group’s flight. They wouldn’t arrive until 2:45 p.m. Saturday. Safety sweeps began at 3 p.m.
Metra officials didn’t want to rely on the combination of planes and weather. As more calls were made, more time began to slip away.
“Woke up better [on Friday], got worse throughout the day,” Massie said of the gut-churning time crunch Metra officials were under. “But by Friday at 6 p.m., I was better.”
The answer came from a group in Missoula, available to travel Friday night and be ready for security checks on Saturday.
“I was much better when I knew they had checked in to the hotel at 2 a.m. Saturday morning. I felt much better at that point,” Massie said with a smile.
The “Dutcher Rule” won out and cost roughly $2,000 for one of the world’s biggest rock bands to light up the stage for three hours to thousands in attendance.
There’s no secret that acts have requests from safety to green room amenities. Metra meets those requests and demands regularly. This particular story gave a look behind the curtain of the MetraPark staff’s effort to ensure the show goes on.
“It really was a team effort,” Massie said. “It’s just another thing we do to make sure that shows get to come to Billings and are comfortable coming to Billings.”
-Dustin Klemann reporting for MTN News