I write today not as a fan of the best MLS team, a member of the best supporters group, or as a resident of the best American city. No, I come to you today as a fan of live sports, the experience that comes along with it, and the mutually beneficial relationship between the franchise & fan.
We, as fans have many responsibilities when we attend any live sporting event. We should know better than to scream obscenities around young children, to fight, or to get so intoxicated that we are unmanageable around our friends. I hope that this is the same way that most fans feel about not just MLS, but about any live sporting event they attend. Basically, be loud, have fun, and don’t be an asshole. We should all know this by now, and if someone is around us who doesn’t know, we should make sure to tell them. I can think back to May of last year, when there was a guest in the STH holders seats behind me. Kid got a little too drunk, started acting sick and wouldn’t leave the seat to, ahem, clear the situation. My friends and I got him hustled out, and the next three matches this person came to he was on his best behavior. See the problem, address the problem, fix the problem, and ensure that it doesn’t continue to go forward.
I hope that all of us as supporters and fans would do the same, no matter the situation. I also hope that if the roles were reversed, if the club or the ownership was creating a dangerous situation that it would be addressed immediately. After reading Twitter this morning, I can see that isn’t the case. Last year I did my first official away match at the glass house/tiny PP, and I can’t say what has happened on any other away matches, but there was a dangerous situation in the away supporters section. Yes, I had some beers, three in the 2 hours prior to the match, and one on the way up to the seats. There was much thirst from all the singing, so at about the 30 minute mark I went down to acquire more. About 3 steps from the bottom of the stairs my feet came out from underneath me, and the world went akimbo. People came running to help me to my feet and my pride (along with my butt) took a little damage. The stairs in that section, for those that have not been, are painted. The combination of any kind of liquid and that paint results in what I would call a hockey rink surface, one so slippery that even the sand that was sprinkled on top of the paint has zero effect. I was not the only person that slipped that day, in fact the ECS capos stopped chanting at several points to warn everyone coming down the stairs to be careful. People still slipped after the warning. After the match my lower back started to hurt, and many people went on to twitter to complain about the situation in PDX. Some even asked for us to write up what happened so an attorney could be called. I was never a litigious type, so I just sent out a few grumbling tweets, hoping the attention called to it might make something happen.
Flash forward to this season, and this was even a question asked and answered right here on this page. It is obvious that there is a problem, one that today even Merritt himself has acknowledged.
Hey @MerrittPaulson could you put some paint on the steps that doesn't turn into an ice rink when wet? Thanks.— Sean Wise (@wisepunk) October 14, 2013
Will we see action on this? Something that is well known to the local SG’s and away SG’s? Known to Stumptown Footy and SaH? Known to Merritt? I don’t believe it will, as it has been brought up numerous times before, without any action.
@Dannicus523 its a good suggestion and we are adding traction material today in many areas (had been planned before your tweet)— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) April 7, 2014
So I have a simple plan to hold the feet to the fire. I would ask that every SG visiting Portland do one simple thing:
Get a video camera on those steps. Attach a go-pro to somewhere and let it run. This might actually motivate the staff there to make some improvements. We have tried tweeting, we have been told the situation has been addressed, the ownership has said this is something that needs to be fixed, yet people are still falling on those steps.
See the problem, address the problem, fix the problem, and ensure that it doesn’t continue to go forward. Steps 3 and 4 seem to have been missed here. I don’t believe they will unless we keep this a visibly actionable issue.
This isn’t an anti-Timbers screed, this isn’t anything negative about the people of PDX, this isn’t about the TA, this isn't about #awayrobbery, this is about a safe fan experience. This needs to be addressed now, before a visiting supporter ends up with a broken hip, and we need to make sure that the management follows through on their promises. I don't want to see any fan of any team get hurt.