Friday, August 01, 2008

A Reader Goes To Dicks Sporting Goods Park In Denver

Our friend in the Philippines, Bart Edes, dropped me a line after his trip to Dick's Sporting Goods Park in suburban Denver for Independence Day. Here is his report:

I was in Colorado in early July and attended the annual 4th of July extravaganza at Dick's Sporting Goods Park (the corporate name does not really flow smoothly off the lips). The facility is new and attractive, situated in a somewhat industrial suburb northeast of Denver. The field conditions are sublime (I sat in the middle of the pitch after the game).

The Rapids really invest a lot of energy into this once-a-season gig, which this year resulted in a sell-out, record crowd (18,776).Before the match, against the Red Bulls, there were 2.5 hours of entertainment in adjacent parking lots and open fields. I went with a bunch of family and friends, mostly visiting from Arizona. My two kids loved the BMX exhibition, with the bikers doing all kinds of crazy leaps, loops, and jumps. Personally, I found the Tecate tent the most alluring. They had porta-johns in the parking lot so beer and soft drink swilling fans could relieve themselves before entering the stadium.

The weather was perfect - clear skies and nice temps in the high 70s/low 80s. The whole atmosphere was festive and family oriented. In terms of demographics, the crowd was overwhelmingly caucasian, with a sprinkling of Hispanics. A lot of young folks. About one in four, it seemed, sported a Rapids jersey with the next most popular kit being that of Arsenal.

In contrast to cities (like DC) where there is a large and rowdy supporters section, the setting inside the venue was pretty calm. There was even a notice outside the entrance “encouraging” people sitting in a designated cheering section to root the team on. They could have used a few more notices because the place just didn't buzz. It was like watching a play.

The Colorado team was clearly motivated for the game, and shredded the Red Bulls' defense time and time again with crosses, putting in 4 goals. After the net bulged, the fans would stand and shout briefly, before sitting down again, folding hands in lap. I was stunned at how pathetic the Red Bulls' defense looked. Rapids left flank player Colin Clark was on fire that night.

When the game was over, most of the audience (virtually all of which remained) was welcomed on to the field to take a seat for a good view of the fireworks that were the evening's big draw (biggest show in the state). The fireworks were indeed cool, but they took place over the big video screen which distracted one's attention from the bright and bursting colors with scenes of waving grain and flags and soldiers and patriotic music. One thing that was very cool was the 3-jet flyover just before the game started.

The pleasant evening was made somewhat unpleasant by the horrific traffic control. The showing of the Commerce City Police Department was amateur hour at its worst. My brother in law, who also attended the match, is a retired law enforcement officer with many years experience in directing traffic after college football games at Arizona State University (with crowds about 3 times as large). He was aghast at the poor organization and flow. It took an hour to get to a main street. Simply awful. I cannot help but think that the delays would leave a sour taste in the mouths of local sports fans, who would probably think twice before returning to see a Rapids game.


Anonymous prashanta said...

Yes, the post game traffic is horrible. After one and a half seasons you would think they could figure out a solution. Also there are no busses running close to the stadium. Come on Rapids...just come on.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Dominghosa said...

Filipinos rule. Though never knew or met one named "Bart." Though mine is also strange.

8:22 PM  

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