Now I don't want to get off ona rant here, but it seems like forever now that I've been hearing stories about how quick the ushers are to overreact at Scotiabank Place. I mostly passed it off as fans who probably didn't notice how annoying they were being, or that they had a few too many and were disturbing everyone else. I had often heard that people were being kicked out of the game not for being drunk or cursing, but for simply being loud. Once again, I shrugged it off. I thought to myself, come on, they don't just kick you out for cheering, there's more to the story, there has to be, even if this is happening in Ottawa.
The stories continued. The emails continued, but I kept brushing them off. I had heard the horror stories, but had never seen anything like what was being described, and I've attended pretty much every home game the last 10+ years. I thought people must just be exagerating but the emails and stories continued.
Then within the past few games, I've finally started to see what people have been talking about.
At the Dany Heatley returns game, you could bet that fans were going to be loud, have their signs, and let their anger out. You could also bet that security and the ushers were on edge, hoping that nothing bad happened, which is understandable. In the row in front of me at that game, there were 3 guys, all having beers, and a Heatley Hate sign in their possession. The sign had no bad language on it whatsoever, they weren't yelling or being vulgar at all, and the usher (pictured above) kept coming over to them all game to annoy them. I couldn't believe it. I was 5 feet away and they were doing absolutely nothing wrong, which is what they kept telling her when she kept coming over, about 5 times in total I'd say. They were displaying their sign, but only at stoppages in play and they were not bothering a single person. Eventually she told them if they didn't stop showing the sign they would be removed. They couldn't understand why, and neither could I, but they decided to stop because you don't want to be kicked out when you've paid to be there. It was ridiculous and bordered on harassment.
The next incident happened a game later, and happened to a few guys behind me. They were all in their early to mid 20's and having a good time. Once again, not swearing excessively, but simply cheering and being loud, because you know, it's a hockey game, not a funeral. Were they drinking? Yep, but not excessively, just having a few beers on game night, the way it's supposed to be. Besides, if they really cared that much about people getting drunk at hockey games, they'd stop selling beer. Anyways, they were being loud, passionate fans and I start to notice that the usher (a different one than Heatley story) starts eyeballing them. I thought nothing of it, but she kept looking over, over and over again, for no reason. They were doing what people do at hockey games, cheering, clapping, and the occasional yell for a good or horrible play. She came over and told them to cheer quiter. I was in shock.
The third incident in the past few weeks happened directly to me. I was at the game with my pops, watching the Sens and Rangers. Now keep in mind I'm with my dad. Neither of us are huge drinkers, especially at the game, and I had not one sip of alcohol all night. I'm also not a huge yeller at the games either. I'm not that loud mouth fan that goes on and on all night. Me and my father were simply having a discussion in normal voices about the game while it was on. You know, simple stuff like Alfie sure is quiet tonight, nice save there by Leclaire, man Kuba sucks, etc etc. We're enjoying the game, when out of nowhere, the lady in front of me (she was probably around 55) turns around and says excuse me, could you keep it down, I can hear your conversation. I was in such shock that I didn't even know what to say to her. It took me 5 seconds to even process that she told me to keep it down when I was just having a normal conversation about THE GAME WE WERE AT! I mean who says that? And take this with total offense if you're one of these people at hockey games who says that to other fans, because you're not on your couch in your living room, you're at an NHL game with 18k+ other fans. If you want quite, go to the library or stay home. Now I wanted to give her a piece of my mind and let her have it, but she was an old lady, so I thought I'd be the bigger person and behave. Even worse, at intermission, she said something to the old lady usher about me, and the usher apologized to her. I couldn't believe it.
Well Sens fans who have been complaining for years, I have finally seen the light and something needs to be done. With our dwindling performance and attendance, the Senators need to make big changes, and not just with our team, but with the way SBP is presented and how the fans are treated. The atmosphere needs to improve and not in a few years, or next year, but now. There aren't enough people who want to pay to attend games right now, for cranky old ushers to have the gaul to piss fans off, especially when they haven't done anything.
Now before you say Mayor, not all ushers are bad, you're absolutely right. There are some excellent ones, who remember regular customers names, who know how to handle things properly, and those who let fans have a good time if they are behaving appropriately. In fact, shoutout to Carmen in Sec 224, who is a longtime usher and is awesome and my personal favorite. She's always friendly and does her job to perfection. She knows how to walk the line of letting people have fun, but has the backbone to not let them act a fool either. Most importantly, she doesn't have a quick trigger finger and actually uses common sense.
Now I'm not the type of person who only complains and offers no solutions to the problem. That would be a jerk move. And I don't wanna target a certain type of person, but the ushers need to be younger, or at least have a certain pro fun mentality. Look around SBP next time you're there, the average usher is usually a woman and in her mid to late 40's to early 50's. How does that make any kind of sense? Of course someone that age is going to have different standards/tolerance levels than someone who's 25-35. And sometimes that's a good thing, but not at a hockey game. Would you want your 45-55 year old parents in charge of fun at your birthday party or event? Because I sure wouldn't, and my parent are super chill for parents.
Perhaps the Sens need to visit the Bell Centre, where most of the ushers tend to be attractive women in their early 20's. It just creates a more pleasant environment for everyone, which is partly to do with why the Bell Centre is fairly usually at the top of the list of stadiums to see a game in the NHL. And it's not even about their looks to be honest, it's about their attitudes. They're there to encourage fun, not ruin it, like most of the ushers in Ottawa.
Will there be any changes to the usher situation at SBP? I really doubt it. This organization moves at a snails pace, actually that's too kind. What's slower than a snail? Whatever it is, that's what they are. They still haven't even tried to fix the parking problem in 14 years. I mean how is that even possible? How do you make zero progress on a massive reason why people don't want to come to SBP?
Their slogan claims fans first, well the time has come to put your money where your mouth is.
Remember, I criticize because I care.
If you have any horror stories, post them in the comment section. The more there are, the bigger chance we can affect some changes.