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Fan concerns: Unruly spectators and security

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Posted Aug. 07, 2012 @ 5:04 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Editor's note: PFW spoke with fans recently about some of their concerns regarding attending NFL games. To read the main story, click here. Below is what fans had to say about having to deal with unruly spectators in the stands.

Fans get rowdy. We love them for it. But we also hate them for it. There is a line, and sometimes it’s crossed.

Brian Elliott: “It’s been getting progressively worse at games, to me. The older I get, everyone is drinking all the time. It’s more like a frat party every time I go. And not just kids, either. I am talking everyday guys are getting hammered. The thing about the Steelers is, their security is not the greatest.”

Lisa Pfeiffer: “You think that you are going to buy club-level seats and spend club-level money, you think you are going to sit with people who behave like you are going to behave. But that’s not necessarily the case. I have had people spill beers down my back. When the Steelers come to town there are always fights. This is going on in club level. What is going on in the other seats?”

Adam Siegel: “Every now and then you get some drunken idiots, but all in all it’s a good experience. Not to be a homer, but I would say 99 percent of (Steelers) fans are good.”

Brian Elliott: “I went to a New Year’s Day game a few years ago, and it was so terrible. That was the only game I have left early in probably 25 years. I could not take it anymore. It was out of control drinking; people were passed out and acting like idiots.”

Christian Ferris: “I remember how I was in my 20s. But it gets out of control. They just drink to excess before games. Sometimes I can’t believe it.”

Lisa Pfieffer: “And it’s not like our section was all kids who just turned 21. They were older, even older than we were. It was shocking to me.”

Brian Elliott: “Cutting off alcohol would be a major thing. I have been to games for many, many years. I know it will never happen, but cut off alcohol completely. Or cut it way down.”

Robert Amberg: “I really don’t like excessive alcohol use. Sometimes I go to a road game and I would wear a Niners jersey, but I don’t do that anymore because I would get abused. I have seen people do it. Certainly, security is a major concern. It seems to be improved. They have the text messaging option where you can alert security, and I did use it once. They came over quickly. The fans were loud and obnoxious and not supposed to be there, so the (stadium officials) asked for their tickets and they were gone. That was really cool.”

Adam Siegel: “I’ve seen the (text messaging) system work. I have seen fans thrown out, and it’s always justified.”

Adam Goldstein: “I have reported fans (for bad behavior) twice. It’s a good feature.”

Christian Ferris: And it’s not just the drinking. It’s the language. It’s shocking sometimes.”

Lisa Pfeiffer: “The people behind us one game, not only were they drinking the whole game, but every other word is an F-bomb. After a while, it wears on you a little bit. I sometimes wanted to go inside and watch it on the TV on the club level.”

Brian Elliott: “Last year, there was a belligerent guy with his girlfriend. Everyone was complaining. It took security several minutes to get up there. It was almost a full-blown brawl. He was taking swings, and yet they let him stay.”

Adam Siegel: “I wouldn’t want to get rid of the rowdy fans. Just the belligerent ones.”

Brian Elliott: “I have a three-year old daughter and I told my wife that I would never take her until she was at least in high school. There’s no way I would submit her to that kind of language and behavior. People are getting way too passionate about it. It’s tough … and yet I still go.”

Lisa Pfeiffer: “The behavior of some people is my biggest pet peeve. If I could change one thing, it would be that. … The reason we gave up on tickets was the people. That’s sad. You can drink all through the game with the club seats and you can hang around after the game longer. I would cut off alcohol sales earlier. It’s just not needed.”

Adam Siegel: “Steelers security does a pretty good job inside the stadium. It might be worse outside the stadium, especially if you are wearing (an opposing team’s jersey), and I don’t know how (teams) can control that more than they do.”

Brian Elliott: “I think Ticketmaster has ruined some of the games. They have opened up (ticket sales) to fans all across the country. I have noticed this the past few years. All these fans are from other teams. Granted, I am a Steelers fan and I go to games at other stadiums. But when Baltimore plays at Heinz Field, there’s bad tension there. I hate to say that away fans shouldn’t have the same (opportunity) to get tickets, but that does tend to lead to more tension in the stands. People take it too far.”

Adam Siegel: “I honestly think the old guard of Steelers fans, the 50-, 60- and 70-year-old fans are being replaced by people like me. It’s not the Steeltown of the 1970s. A lot of office people are going to games. We’re known more for technology and education than steel now. It’s a different crowd. You’re not going to get as many blue-collar fans because it’s too expensive.”

Adam Goldstein: “They have improved (security) in Atlanta, no question.”

Lisa Pfeiffer: “We could never take our oldest (child), who is now 7. We could never take our oldest to a game. I wouldn’t want my kids around that behavior, that language.”

Jon Kazanjian: “(Fan behavior) bothers me now than I have (young kids). I went to a game completely sober once, and it’s a little disturbing. The old Foxboro Stadium was worse, and the Patriots security is crazy now. They’ll strip your season tickets for the slightest of problems. Having that big waiting list (for tickets) helps. People still act crazy, but it’s so much better than it used to be. I would probably bring the kids now, but I wouldn’t do the tailgate thing with them.”

Ernie Rupp: “Do I want my kids (ages 7 and 11) around some of the people at the games? Do I want to ask certain people to be quiet? You just have to take your kids out of the situation until they are ready to hear or see that kind of stuff.”

Adam Siegel: “Most of the out-of-control fans are 22-year-olds, drinking and swearing too much.”

Brian Elliott: “You run a slippery slope when you start selecting who your fans are going to be. I understand that.”

Robert Amberg: “That’s the biggest concern for me: feeling safe in the stadium. After what happened against the Raiders in the preseason a few years ago, it’s a big priority for me. Because of that, they don’t even play anymore. That’s scary.”

Brian Elliott: “The biggest thing to me is keeping the fans in check. Maybe it’s better in other cities.”

Adam Goldstein: “Inside the stadium, it’s easier to control. Outside, different story.”

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