The director of security and risk hired to oversee Astroworld’s deadly festival and develop the event’s operations plan was also a longtime employee of a separate security company contracted for the event, rolling stone has learned. The development highlights what some security experts are saying rolling stone is a possible conflict of interest that could have impacted the planning and decision-making of the event.
Seyth Boardman co-founded live entertainment risk management firm B3 Risk Solutions in 2010. B3 has worked at notable music festivals, including the October 2021 Rolling Loud festival in Miami, during which Travis Scott product. With showrunners Live Nation and ScoreMore subcontracting B3 for the event, Boardman acted as Astroworld’s director of security and risk. Additionally, Boardman is also a longtime director of Contemporary Services Corporation, one of the nation’s largest event security companies and the company responsible for the concert’s security.
As three event security sources put it rolling stone – including two former CSC employees who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal – such a connection brings a potential conflict of interest given that Boardman is on two separate payrolls and should make decisions on both for the wider festival and more specifically for SCC. These potential issues, they say, could include budget disputes, the management of security personnel, or other scenarios where a festival organizer may be pushing for a cause of action while the security company would like another solution. .
“CSC managers receive a base salary and bonuses based on their region’s financial productivity,” says a former CSC executive who now works at another security company but is familiar with CSC’s payment structures. “[Earnings] at CSC depend on obtaining good financial conditions at events. When you have to make a decision and go back to Live Nation and say what CSC can or can’t do, if you don’t know what hat you’re wearing, that’s where the problem lies. (Neither CSC nor Boardman responded to a question about how Boardman was paid by CSC.)
“The main thing wrong with this scenario is that you can’t be loyal to two masters,” says another former CSC manager familiar with that company’s protocols.
A longtime security manager with experience in large-scale live events recounts rolling stone an ideal security director for a festival should be unbiased and make unbiased decisions focused solely on the security of an event and not influenced by the potential interest of any company they contract with. Even if a security manager is not paid by one of the companies contracted to provide services for the event, as with Boardman and CSC, the security manager says that the security manager of an event has a personal relationship with a company they hire to provide services at the event could also affect their impartiality, whether the relationship is too friendly or too adversarial.
“I wouldn’t hire someone [in that scenario]; the optics are terrible,” he says. “If I’m doing a festival and I’ve created a safety plan and I want my plan to be as good as possible, I want someone to look at it with a clear eye that can identify things that I may have. Your loyalties are divided because you want to take care of whoever is paying you on both sides,” he says.
“You want someone with no allegiance. In every industry, people make friends and that shouldn’t stop someone from finding work,” he adds. “But even if they are no longer with the company, what is their relationship? Did they have a bad relationship so now he wants to nitpick? Is he too friendly and will he let things slide?
It’s unclear how much the festival organizers knew of Boardman’s relationship with CSC when he was cast in his role through B3. Boardman, B3 and CSC did not respond to requests for comment.
Live Nation, the festival’s promoter and the parent company of fellow show promoter ScoreMore, declined to comment on specific questions about Boardman or his relationship with the company, but said in a statement that “the safety of a festival like this is always a collaborative effort between many parties including the operator, venue, trade contractors and local authorities, in this case including Live Nation, Scoremore, NRG Park, CSC, B3 and the Houston Police and Fire Departments,” Live Nation said.
The company also noted that it hired significantly more security than originally planned for the event.
“As part of the planning, Live Nation has advocated and funded numerous efforts to significantly improve the safety and security of the festival. In addition to NRG’s arrangement with CSC, Live Nation, Scoremore and B3 arranged hundreds of additional security personnel for Astroworld from other sources, in addition to the hundreds of members of the Houston Police Department who were present. These efforts more than doubled the number of security personnel the site originally agreed to provide.
At first glance, a festival’s director of security and risk also working for a separate company contracted to provide security for the event may seem uncontroversial at first sight, given that both are focused on setting up place of a safe spectacle. “I don’t think there’s a big difference up front; ideally, those in both positions have the same responsibility to keep people safe,” says CSC’s first former manager.
Potential problems arise, according to the former CSC manager, when it comes to things like planning security budgets and personnel. “The difference is on the side of responsibility. When something like a personnel issue arises, how can it be handled fairly? »
As for the Astroworld situation, the former CSC director pointed to the reported lack of security personnel ahead of the event. A Houston Chronicle An investigative report found that after several weeks of staffing concerns, Harris County authorized a last-minute amendment to the festival’s contract to allow showrunners to hire more outsourced security for the event. . Among those brought in were AJ Melino & Associates, which, among other things, two security guards file a complaint for the lack of training they claim to have received. (A representative for Melino & Associates did not respond to a request for comment.)
The former director recalls his time at CSC that if an event was understaffed, it was common to bring in more workers from CSC branches in other states rather than hire other contractor companies. . CSC’s internal security was often more expensive but better secured more experienced security officers, the official said, while hiring contractors could often be cheaper but of lower quality.
” I brought [CSC] out-of-town security guards when we needed help; historically, that’s what we did,” he says. “Why didn’t CSC do that this time? It is the largest security provider in the United States.
CSC has come under intense scrutiny since last November’s disaster at Astroworld. The company is named in more than 60 lawsuits in Harris County alongside other defendants, including Travis Scott and festival organizers Live Nation and ScoreMore following a crowd rush that killed 10 people and injured hundreds more.
So far, the pressure and polls have been directed more towards Live Nation, ScoreMore and Scott, given their greater notoriety and influence in the live music industry.
Several security guards said they had never been trained for the festival, nor had they obtained the license they needed to work as security guards. Samuel and Jackson Bush, the two security guards suing AJ Melino & Associates, were injured while working at the festival, according to the suit. Jackson Bush had his security license, as shown by the Texas Private Security Database, but Samuel did not. As of Feb. 11, the same database shows that Boardman was also not licensed in Texas.
rolling stone previously reported allegations of rushed hiring and training from CSC, with hired security guard Darius Williams saying the company gave him and several other security guards the answers to a test for their security licenses to work on the event.
“It felt like they just needed bodies, like they were hiring someone who passed a background test,” Williams said.