Major League Soccer often takes heat for the slow growth approach the league has pursued as it builds soccer its presence in the United States. Too many pundits have forgot that the mere act of starting a soccer league in the United States is an action of wild exuberance, counter to prevailing wisdom.
Slow growth has frustrated fans of the game who want top level competition, ample television coverage, stands filled with chanting fans, and cheap tickets – for good measure. Reality, it would seem, is just a small barrier that can be overcome.
Still the league, and the Rapids in particular, have often seemed cautious to a fault. Targeting demographics that, “make sense,” as in chasing the youth soccer family dollar. Hard core fans have complained about this marketing focus for years, noting that families tend to make only occasional trips to the park, don’t pay attention to the game, and often complain when the regular’s begin to roister.
What the fans have asked for is for the Rapids to facilitate their enjoyment of the game. Some fans have taken matters into their own hands creating supporters groups such as Class VI, the C-Firm, the NCC, and Legion 5280. The efforts of these groups leaders has helped various fans find a home in the stadium where they could enjoy the game in a manner that suits them. The result of these efforts has had a ripple effect creating the environment that makes today’s announcement possible.
That announcement is that, in addition being designated as a fans section, the north end of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park will feature a terrace section. No seats, just a slanted area for fans to stand, cheer, and enjoy the game.
For those who do not know, terrace sections are standing sections that have been a part of soccer culture all over the world. Terrace culture is legend throughout football, producing wonderful gameday atmosphere, but also some very tragic events.
Those events are largely connected to hooliganism in England, and have resulted in terraces being removed in throughout the UK. The English experience might be cause for concern, but terraces have lived on in Germany without incident. The German experience suggests that there were issues unique in England that went beyond the stadium structure.
Not all details have been released and the Rapids yet to make their own announcement. Today’s announcement has come from Mark Bodmer, the head of the Class VI supporters group, who ciruclated an e-mail revealing the event. Here are some of the other details that are likely to follow:
- The section will be age restricted. Minors will only be allowed in if accompanied by an adult.
- The section already has its own concession, but it will also add beer carts.
- The section is roomy enough to accommodate all the supporters groups.
The Rapids should be commended for this venture, which is truly unique in the United States. Other teams have embraced their fan groups with great success. Following the examples set by Toronto and Seattle the Rapids have put in place an attraction that should help the fans create the kind of game day experience they desire.