06 June 2008

Even as you attempt to win, please accept a list of our demands

Perhaps the news coverage of the Democratic Nominating Process has gotten to me, but even as it seems D.C. United has inching closer to making a deal with either DC or PG County for a stadium, now it seems time for me to present a list of what I would want to see in a new stadium. Yes, I realize that I have little clout in this matter, but if Barack Obama in Virginia can shamelessly steal from Star City Mayor Oliver Queen* in calling out the "corporate Fat Cats," then I can shamelessly steal from Hillary Clinton by enumerating my conditions when the other parties have most of the power.

The fact is, until now, we've pretty much been in complete lockstep with the entire stadium argument from DCU and Victor MacFarlane. We've tried to approach it with our best efforts at intellectual and public policy honesty, but ultimately we do believe that D.C. United needs a stadium, just as a matter of financial survival.

However, as we begin to move to a phase where the idea of a stadium plan moves to "there will be a stadium" (though yet to be geographically determined) let's start talking about what kind of stadium we want to see. I should, of course, note that some have started this conversation already, so I don't pretend to be a pioneer. Still, the point he makes is well made - United's home field atmosphere comes primarily from the loud side, and protecting a boisterous loud side is important. This means privileging the Supporter's groups even in a new stadium. Let's face it, supporter related ticket activity will still be a large percentage of ticket sales, so this is in United's interest as well.

These concerns are distinct from Geography, and distinct from other architectural concerns (I don't want a stage-end, but it's not a deal breaker. I like bouncy stands, but it's still not a deal breaker if we don't have them.) Atmosphere and game-day experience are what I am all about. I want that protected in a new stadium.

So how can we do that?:

  1. Seating: I'm sure that United knows this, but having the main supporter's groups on the sideline in the middle of the field is a huge impact. Not just to TV cameras (though that helps) but also to the quiet side. When I sit on the quiet side, I still appreciate looking across the field and seeing the rowdies tear the place up. So don't stick them in the corner, away from lost lines of sight. Which leads to...
  2. Unity: Here's where I may get into trouble. While I'm sure that both La Barra Brava and the Eagles both want good sideline seating, it's not clear to me that they want to sit next to each other. In fact, I know that some people in both groups would prefer a little more distance. This should be resisted, even if the Supporter's Groups themselves ask for it (and I hope they don't). On a macro level, even if the tifo isn't some beautifully orchestrated symphony, having the interaction between the two groups is more important to the United experience, and to the experience of the United fans. I know, and understand, the feelings on the separatists for both sides, but to my mind having two supporter's groups, different, but none-the-less in close proximity and occasionally in unison, is a wonderful thing.
  3. Prices: I'm hoping that the biggest impact to United's bottom line with a new stadium is a reduction in day-to-day overhead costs. And while several of the loud United supporters are wealthy individuals, the fact that you can get a good ticket for $20 or less means that you get a good economic spectrum of support. That has to be protected, and should be in line with United's mission of "serving the community." While I can apprecaite the need to raise prices for some areas of the stadium to increase profit (or defray construction costs) I would hate if we say an across-the-board increase of 20% for most tickets. That's not going to fly with me. With a smaller stadium capacity and smaller costs for overhead, and the revenue that United will obtain from concessions, parking, and advertising, and with the new sponsor deals, I hope United will keep any price increase for most of the existing 100-level seating areas to no more than 5% in the first three years of the stadium.
  4. Tailgating: You want atmosphere, you have to let us tailgate. Just that simple. There important... preparation... that needs to be done pregame.
For me, those are the important demands, but of course, I'm sure I'm missing some. Feel free to point out my oversights.

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11 Comments:

At 06 June, 2008 11:06, Blogger Bob said...

A lot of those supporters wouldn't have been out there in that rain on Wednesday night if they hadn't "prepared" pregame, as you put it.

 
At 06 June, 2008 11:08, Anonymous I-66 said...

I personally think having the Barra and Eagles close together leads to more unity in song. There's already a slight delay from one end of the Barra to the opposite end of the Eagles, so why make it worse?

Also, I don't want to see bench seats. They're visually unappealing (see: Crew Stadium), and uncomfortable to sit in (see: Crew Stadium), and while the supporters clubs don't sit, the rest of the stadium has to.

 
At 06 June, 2008 12:22, Anonymous Max J. said...

Honestly, I think the tailgate ship sailed along time ago (assuming we still sneak into Poplar Point).

I don't necessarily think having the groups in a purpose-built supporters' end would be bad, either. It could also be the over-the-stage end, which might mean bouncy stands. My guess is that a lot of the Quiet Siders are conditioned after long years of looking at the Loud Side to still be more engaged than casual fans in most cities.

 
At 06 June, 2008 13:51, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Separating the Eagles and La Barra Brava would be the death of MLS' best fans. They should make one sideline in the North so la Norte will come over and sit with the main supporters as well. They're isolated now.

Also, they should put in bouncy stands...

 
At 06 June, 2008 17:17, Anonymous Skippy said...

I'm sorry, deeply sorry, to hear that the tailgating ship may have sailed. In addition to the "preparations," it also makes for a more inviting atmosphere to bring casual fans into the supporters club fold.

Nor would I suggest separating the groups, although I kind of like having La Norte on the quiet end. Not that I have anything against them, rather I like that they set a good example to the more complacent fans. Having sat on the quiet end for the first couple years I was here, you can tell that there is chanting going on in the supporter's side, but you have absolutely no idea what the chant is.

I'll miss the bouncy stands if those leave. And the seats across from the center circle. But there are going to have to be some sacrifices. I would hate to see all of those things go, some of them should at least be preserved.

 
At 06 June, 2008 18:54, Blogger Sean said...

This may sound dumb, but what does "tifo" mean? Or stand for? I know it from context, but I can't define it.

 
At 06 June, 2008 20:24, Anonymous MEL said...

I enjoyed when La Norte was a huge group heckling the opposition defenders and goalie from directly behind the North goal. Would defintely like to see plentiful, inexpensive seating behind the goals so they could regroup.

 
At 08 June, 2008 12:42, Blogger adelino said...

i know that DCU probably isn't in a financial position to command this, but while we're dreaming, why not an ecologically and environmentally sustainable stadium?

MLS fans are probably the most environmentally-aware sports spectators in the US. i now that's not saying much, but shouldn't our new stadium incorporate wastewater reclamation systems and alternative energy sources while we sit in comfy seating made of recycled materials?

there might be a higher initial investment, but lower utility costs could result in more long-term money in the coffers for a new DP.

my employer has been waiting for a new building for the last seven years. now that the possibility is there, they've adopted a "we'll take any cheap crap as long as it's new" mentality. i hate that at work and i hate that for DCU. i want a stadium we're proud of not just at DCU fans, but as residents of the DC metro environment.

 
At 09 June, 2008 08:58, Anonymous BigKris said...

This question has come up before, and the sense I get is that the Barra itself isn't certain what it wants to do. I think there are both those who want a traditional end kind of setup (say, put la norte at the north end and la barra at the south end) and there are others who want to stay on the sideline like they are now.
It wouldn't surprise me if the result is that some Barra do one thing and some do the other (to the detriment of the Barra).

 
At 09 June, 2008 09:12, Anonymous Mickey said...

Glaring Omission: Deck over the seats (a la Red Bull Park) in order to keep the fans dry - especially as the seasons now stretch from late winter to early winter...

 
At 09 June, 2008 23:12, Blogger Maniac said...

Lighting - PLEASE make it bright - take a visit to Toyota Park for an example of what NOT to do. at least as bright, if not brighter than RFK...

 

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