Guest Blogger: One Galaxy Fan’s Rant at Home Depot Center Management

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.

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!
  • http://www.simeons.net Simeon

    I didn’t attend the AC Milan game, but I was at Coldplay. I can tell you the parking and security wasn’t any better. We parked off University. At the end of the night, security gave priority to the one or two cars driving on University. In the parking lot, thousands of cars waited while one car drove down University toward Avalon. Security should have stopped the minuscule flow of traffic and let us leave in droves. Inside the HDC, the security was bullish and plain dumb. We had GA floor seats, and security only allowed two paths to the floor. This meant hundreds of people had to wait for entrance to their seats. At most other venues, floor access is granted all over the stadium. Plus, the beer prices were more than normal! $12 for a 22oz can of Bud Light? Crazy. I thought beer at Galaxy games was expensive. AEG needs to change how they operate. The HDC is a beautiful venue for soccer and concerts, but attendees won’t continue to come back to be blatantly disrespected and abused.

  • http://shirtees.net Shirtees.net

    I’m no fan of the parking at HDC. I remember the old Rose Bowl days too when LAG played there. Parking people would park the cars four deep and after the game, the cars in the middle of the row of 4 would have to wait until the outer cars left. It was a nightmare.

    I’ve never had a parking problem at HDC. But, as a sports fan you learn very quickly to get to a game 1-2 hours ahead of time anyways. Failing to do so is going to ruin your experience as it did with this person. When I get to HDC I arrive 2 hours early, find a nice free parking spot outside of the stadium and walk the couple blocks. Heck, I also stop somewhere to eat before the game anymore so I don’t have to pay ridiculous food prices once inside. My game day experience is pretty good, because I plan it out beforehand. If you are paying $50-$100 for a seat (like AC for Milan or Barcelona) why would you not plan this out better?? The few times I have parked in the paid parking on the north side of HDC, it was easy to get in (at 2 hours beforehand), but there was a mad rush to get out after the game. Still not a big deal…. 10-15 minutes waiting in line to get on the freeway is normal Los Angeles for ya.

  • Limey

    I was at the game, the traffic getting in was bad, but not as bad as it was to get in the Rose Bowel on Tuesday. I left the game in the 88th minute, got to my car in the campus parking lot and was heading away at full speed in about two minutes.

    I agree the security is a little overzealous but come on, there is plenty to do at the HDC before the game, arrive early, chill, have a beer, relax and get to your seat in good time. What event with 20K people can you get to at the last minute?

    I wonder if your colleague gets frustrated when he is flying too?

  • Mark

    Seriously, that post reads like a whole bunch of “Whaaaaaaaaa”. I parked outside of the stadium lot and walked to the stadium. Saw a long line waiting to get in, so I walked to a shorter one. Found my seats and watched a great game. After the game simply walked to my car and was on the freeway in 30min.

    It was the largest crowd in HDC history, obviously it would be prudent to try to arrive early and avoid the main entrance. I have been to Dodger stadium where it takes 2+ hours just to reach the freeway after a game, I have never had that problem at the HDC.

  • Studs Up

    I keep saying idiots that shell out big bucks to attend these rip off games are not true fans of the sport and the local teams. So the hell with them and their negative experiences. Also you Nick should have schooled this stupid unsuspecting co-worker.

  • Bored

    Hey Douglas, i have someone who wants to talk to you……..wait i can’t quite hear him………oh OK got it.

    Doug, it’s a Mr. Beckham he says he read your blog and wondered if you would come over and shake his hand??

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    Phil Anschutz and Tim Leiweke have long since stopped caring about what fans really think (just ask any Kings’ fans). All they want to do is make money, money and more money. Nothing is wrong with making money, of course, but when you treat people like cattle (or worse) and disregard all sense of ethics (as AEG did in essentially forcing the City of Los Angeles to pay for police and security for the Michael Jackson memorial service), you lose any sense of credibility — and deserve no respect.

    BTW, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich said that there may be civil or criminal issues involving AEG’s and the city’s role in Jackson’s memorial.

    Perhaps some jail time will drag Messers Anschutz and Leiweke out of their self-constructed cocoon…

  • http://www.theassocationblog.com Craig

    Quite frankly Douglas sounds like a typical soccer mom attending a Galaxy game. It’s a sporting event and not a weekend AYSO game! Traffic in LA sucks… that’s a fact! No matter what sporting event you attend ALWAYS get there at the latest 30 minutes before the event.

    I was at the grand opening of the HDC back in 2003 and had an absolute brutal parking experience. Since then for every MAJOR friendly I arrive at least an hour early and park on the other side of the campus. A simple rule of thumb for every sporting event, the farther you park the faster you exit.

    Everyone knows that the Galaxy oversells the stadium for major events. The attendance figure of 27,000 was a glossed-over number in order to get Carson and CSUDH to allow for the stadium to be built. Usually major friendlies get around 30,000 fans. Obviously the stadium staff was unprepared for the crowds and that blame falls completely on AEG. Also rude ushers are completely unacceptable, however as a 4-year season ticket holder I have NEVER experienced any rudeness. In fact they usually seem to be overly friendly.

    Douglas needs to learn how to attend a professional sporting events and not be a reactionary soccer mom. Arrive early, be prepared and you’ll have fun.

  • Beaten

    What’s the fuss all about?

    Nick warned everyone to arrive early in his Sunday column:

    “Arrive early this evening for the Galaxy-AC Milan friendly at Home Depot Center…”

    http://www.insidesocal.com/soccer/2009/07/sunday-galaxy-gameday-more-2.html

  • rob from Quebec

    Sounds like the security is ready for a soccer riot!

  • http://fromaleftwing.blogspot.com From A Left Wing

    Wow. That’s unbelievable and not surprising. Yet another example of how organizations continue to underestimate the numbers of people invested in this sport. The real story isn’t how Beckham treated the Galaxy fans. It’s how AEG & the LA Galaxy treat the Galaxy fans.

  • High Pitch Eric

    Nick, suggest you send your friend to sold-out USC Football game at the Coliseum in South Central LA. He’ll wish he was back at the Home Depot Center.