Remembering the tragedy at "The Who" concert 30 years later

By Stefano DiPietrantonio - email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -  It will be 30 years ago Thursday, Dec. 3. It's a grim anniversary that many Cincinnatians have etched in their minds, of the 11 people who died at "The Who" concert at the Coliseum.

FOX19 spoke with fans who were there that fateful night and how they plan to memorialize those who died.

"You're looking at the plaza where it just would have been a mass of people, obviously it was more plaza and none of the new stadium but it just loaded, can you imagine 8,000 people at least in this area?" said Michael Babb of Dayton, as he looked out over the plaza, outside of what is today the US Bank Arena.

Eight-thousand people were all pushing impatiently toward two doors to get into "The Who" concert. Eleven people died in the crush.

"When you open up two doors to try to get all these people through there it just made for, it was basically insane," said Babb.

At the time, Michael Babb was 17 and his buddy Craig Ransom was 30.

"They kinda blame festival seating but I think the doors had more to do with it than the festival seating," Ransom said. "Everybody would have been orderly if they had more doors open."

There are five doors today in the same spot where the disaster happened, the same amount of doors that were here back in 1979, but for a swell of thousands of people, only two were open.

"Ya' know it's bad, it's devastating, I don't think it's any one person's fault the band started warming up, out on the plaza was wall to wall people and they thought the groups had started and they just couldn't get the doors open fast enough, I don't know."

89-year-old Lila Craig has worked at the ticket office since the old Coliseum opened. She only works part-time these days.

"I went home at 5 o'clock and I got a phone call from my daughter in Denver telling me something bad had happened at the Coliseum."

Lila Craig turned on the television and saw what had happened.

"We lived through it for years, people ya' know, came by accused us of everything so it was pretty devastating," Craig said.

Both Ransom and Babb say now is the time to remember thirty years later, with a plaque or some sort of memorial for all those who died.

"There's nine flagpoles over there," said Babb referring to the plaza. " All we need to do is add 2 more flagpoles and put it right there with those, that's one choice."

Or, perhaps, place a plaque next to the two doors, so no one ever forgets what happened that December night.

Fans are expected to gather outside the doors on the top deck around 5:30 Thursday night for a vigil to remember the victims.

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