Douglas Morino is a reporter at the Daily Breeze in Torrance who attended last weekend’s Galaxy-AC Milan game in Carson as part of the capacity crowd.
I asked him to write about his experience as a fan; he does not paint a pretty picture.
What my friend and I, along with hundreds of other soccer fans, experienced Sunday night at Home Depot Center was nothing short of outrageous.
I expected the bad traffic.
What I didn’t expect was it to take us two hours to drive from the Avalon Boulevard off-ramp to the Home Depot Center parking lot. It was clear from the beginning the powers that be were unprepared for the influx of soccer fans descending upon the HDC.
I can deal with long lines for overpriced beer.
But outside the ticket gates closest to the tennis stadium, there were hundreds of people – literally, hundreds – lined up waiting to enter. The line was a dozen people thick and
stretched to the parking lot. The scene was unsettling. At that point, the match was already underway.
Frustrated, we went to the opposite end of the stadium, where the line to get in was shorter. We walked into the stadium 10 minutes after kickoff.
We had tickets in the general admission area – first come, first served – and by the time we reached the section it was clear there were no open seats. We stood for a while, along with dozens of other fans who were venting their frustrations at security guards and ushers. Who could blame them? It was hot, crowded and there was no where to sit.
I looked to the press box with envy as I envisioned a colleague sitting comfortably, maybe enjoying a cold drink and air conditioning, as he observed the match from the 50-yard line and typed away on his laptop.
Around the 25th minute we sat in fold-out chairs behind the general admission section along with about a dozen other people. We were immediately told to leave, and the argument with stadium officials would last until the final whistle blew.
After halftime, people continued to scramble to find a place to sit, or even stand. Some seats lining the section remained empty the entire match, and security guards and ushers would not allow them to be filled. The growing crowd continued to protest.
Security, not surprisingly, was having no part of it. They told us to leave the section, they told us to take it up with customer service, then they threatened to kick us out. By this time, the crowd behind the section had grown substantially – and so had their anger. Security called at least one sheriff’s deputy to the scene. It was obvious they had oversold that section and the entire stadium. I wondered were the Fire Marshall was to enforce any fire code.
Finally, in the 70th minute, a sympathetic security guard intervened, and using verbal force, cleared some space and found us a few seats in the general admission section. Unfortunately, many who paid to get into the section were left standing, far removed from the action on the field and in the stands.
Trying to get in the stadium was one thing. Trying to get out was something completely different.
After the final whistle blew, an elderly man took a break from the massive herd trying to leave the section and sat down in an empty seat. A young female security guard promptly told him to stand up. People passing by spoke up in defense of the old man.
“I don’t have to take any of your (expletive),” she shouted.
We finally made it outside and literally ran to our car to avoid the impending onslaught of traffic. I’ve been to packed Dodger playoff games, BCS bowl games, and sporting events in the Developing World, and nothing compared to the disorganization and blatant disrespect being forced upon paying customers Sunday in Carson.
My friend and I drove out of the stadium parking lot that night, vowing never to return.
It seems Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns and operates the stadium, as well as the Galaxy, keep finding ways to drive new fans like Morino away. Incidentally, a press box colleague (who arrived late to the game) had a very similar experience with the traffic control (or total lack thereof outside the stadium) calling it “complete chaos.” And power hungry security at the stadium is another recurring theme, too. I’d be interested in hearing from other fans and AEG officials are welcome to respond as well in the comment section.