I’m not big on symbolism. More often than not, I tend to agree with Sigmund Freud; sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
But on Sunday night, a group of pigeons perched above section 306 at Sports Authority Field and was doing to fans what the team has been doing to them for years – crapping on them. That may sound crass, but it’s true.
First, the lowdown on the pigeon problem.
Apparently, some folks who paid $250 per ticket for seats in the club level had to dodge bird droppings throughout the Broncos season opener against the Steelers. Multiple people were pelted during the game, one as many as four times. And fans throughout the section had to use towels to cover their heads and popcorn bags to protect their open drinks.
“(We’re) sitting there trapped in this kind of a situation,” Allison Harden told the Coloradoan earlier this week about her game-day experience. “Any moment, a pigeon (will) poop on you.”
It sounds funny. But to them, it was no laughing matter.
“It’s a health issue,” Allison’s husband, Jeff, told the newspaper. “There’s people with drinks. There’s open food containers.”
That’s a bit of a stretch. It’s bird poop, not the Ebola virus. But being annoyed by the situation, especially considering the fact that the season ticket holder they were at the game with has reportedly complained about the problem in the past, is more than understandable. It had to be a major distraction during what should have been a fun night at the ballpark.
In an effort to stem the problem, the Broncos have apparently gone to the trouble of placing a plastic owl in the rafters. Such a deterrent can be purchased online at Walmart.com for a mere $18.97. Apparently, the team is getting what they paid for, as the fake bird is having zero impact on the pesky pigeons.
That said, the team did address the situation this week.
“We strive to ensure that all fans have a positive experience during Broncos games, and their safety and comfort is our No. 1 priority,” Andy Gorchov, general manager of Stadium Management Company (which operates Sports Authority Field for the Broncos), said in a statement. “Unfortunately, outdoor stadiums do sometimes have issues with birds.”
His response is funny. And it’s true. But it’s also kind of disturbing.
That last line, the sarcastic one about outdoor stadiums having issues with birds, pretty much summarizes the team’s attitude toward their fans. Deep down, they don’t care about their experience; they see fans as a whining, complaining nuisance.
As a result, they aren’t about to jump through hoops to solve this type of problem; if the gripers in section 306 can’t suck it up and deal with the birds, the Broncos will gladly fill those seats with other fans who would love to spend $250 each to watch Peyton Manning and Company on the field.
This is nothing new. It’s the same attitude that has permeated throughout the building since the team moved into the new stadium. Sports Authority Field isn’t run in a way to best serve fans; it’s operated in a fashion that is conducive to generating the most revenue possible in a three- to six-hour window.
Don’t believe me? Sit back at the next game and watch the “entertainment” that is provided. It doesn’t add to the fan experience (unless you really do pine for the next edition of the US Bank “Flex Your Muscles” Cam); it’s simply there to provide sponsorship opportunities.
If the people in the seats were truly being considered, every TV timeout would be filled with things they really want – non-stop highlights from around the league, fantasy stats, etc. While some of those things are provided, they are few and far between.
Gorchov’s comments reflect the biggest problem that permeates at Sports Authority Field (aside from the carpet-bombing pigeons) – the Broncos are disconnected from their fans. Only someone who doesn’t have to experience that type of problem firsthand would be so flippant about it.
For years, I’ve been suggesting a very simple solution to this problem: Every person who works for the Broncos should have to attend one game per year as a “normal” fan. That means no parking pass, no entry through security, no indoor seats, no catered meals and no other luxuries.
My guess is that if the people who make decisions about what Broncos fans want at a game actually experienced what it’s like to go to a Broncos game, they’d see things differently than they currently do. Traffic patterns would be better. The pat-down lines would flow smoother. Rowdy behavior would be less tolerated. And concessions would be more reasonable.
And in this instance, the team would probably invest in some bird spikes ($20.99 per linear 10 feet at Target.com), which seem to work wonders on the beams that stretch above the fans at Wrigley Field. A pigeon dropping or two on the head of an high-placed employee would be all it took.
Getting pooped on isn’t fun; just ask the Hardens. And if the Broncos don’t stop doing it to their fans – both literally and figuratively – it’ll eventually drive them away.