Last month, my family and I came to Spokane to go shopping and see our Tri-City Americans play the Spokane Chiefs for my 15th birthday.
After a day of shopping at local stores and eating dinner, we went to the game. I was so impressed by the new Arena! So many people were there, I became excited as we walked through the doors. The only other hockey game I had ever been to in Spokane was seven years ago.
We had felt intimidated and threatened in the little Boone Street Barn that night, but I attributed that to the fact that hot-head Bryan Maxwell was the Chiefs’ coach then. I thought this time would be different.
Yet, it was three times worse this time, when more than 10,000 people there were acting just like Maxwell.
Every hard hit was greeted with a loud cheer, the kind you usually hear only when a goal is scored. When a Tri-City player was hurt the Arena roared. No one cared if a Chief went to the penalty box after a fight; they only cared if he had “won,” meaning knocking hard into someone else.
That wasn’t so bad. I could understand it. After all, the Chiefs and the Americans are pretty big rivals.
But then the real rudeness started. The Americans had just scored, so my friend and I stood up and clapped. People all around us started yelling. I could understand one or two people, but the whole section?
After the first two goals by the Americans, my parents asked my sister, friend and myself not to clap anymore because they felt threatened. By our third goal, people were jeering at us, “Looo-sers! Looo-sers!”
It’s not that we were threatening the lead - the score was 8 to 3 at that point. I was absolutely appalled, as were my parents. The guy next to me had probably had five beers by then, and he kept sneering in our direction. Many people were cussing at our players and at us.
Needless to say, we will never go back. All the people I have talked to about this incident say they won’t return as well. The Arena should be a welcoming place for families who are visiting the city; for us it wasn’t.
Fellow teens who were from Spokane were sitting around us, and their parents didn’t seem too pleased with the foul language, either. I’m sure the security guard who was standing right there could have at least tried to stop it.
We spent money at restaurants, stores, the Arena and at a hotel. It was one of the worst birthdays of my life. I’m not saying that every single person there was rude, but many were. One man did take the time to assure us that we were not the losers, the people yelling at us were. I agree.
Spokane has a beautiful new arena and should be proud of it. But while that impressed me, the fans made it seem the worst place to be. We have been to games in Seattle and Portland before and never have we been treated like this. Nor have I seen any Spokane fan treated like this in the Tri-Cities.
Of course, not every one in the Tri-Cities is going to be nice to an opposing fan, but I can assure you that no no one will ever be jeered at by an entire section.
Every coliseum has its share of weirdoes, but I think Spokane’s overall atmosphere is hostile. Even if only one fan reads this and changes the way he or she acts, than I will feel this column was worth writing.
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