Fans tossed out of Canucks game for cheering
Published Thursday, February 14, 2013 7:21PM PST
Last Updated Thursday, February 14, 2013 7:22PM PST
A group of sports fans are crying foul after they were ejected from a Vancouver Canucks game this week for standing up and cheering.
Brett Graham is president of the Southsiders, a support group for the Vancouver Whitecaps that has existed since 1999 and now includes 1,200 members.
The group generally stands behind the net at Whitecaps games and sings, chants and claps for 90 minutes. “We like to think it gives them a boost on the field,” Graham said.
He said the group was thrilled to bring that same atmosphere to Rogers Arena after getting 75 tickets to attend a Canucks game against the Minnesota Wild earlier this week.
“It’s very quiet at a Canucks game,” Graham said.
Fans stand and clap when a goal is scored or there’s an outrageous play, but “otherwise, people are mostly just sitting in their seats and taking it in, or taking in whatever’s going on on their cell phone at the time,” he said.
A guard approached the Southsiders several times, asking them to stop standing, though they had no problem with the loud cheering and clapping, Graham said.
“There were two members that were ejected from the stadium for disagreeing with security on the standing issue,” he said. “We were told we were only allowed to stand when a goal was scored and no other times unless you were in the very back row,” Graham said.
But the two who were kicked out argued against the rule, saying the only people they were blocking were other members of the Southsiders, who were also standing.
Graham maintained that nobody directly complained about the group’s behaviour, and that people around them joined in on the action.
Victor de Bonis, Chief Operating Officer for the Canucks, said the club’s policy is for everybody to be able to see the game sitting – and that there were fans who complained via an anonymous text number about the group obstructing their view.
“The policies are pretty straightforward,” he said. “We talked to them four or five times…they got a little bit aggressive in terms of the dialogue, so we asked them to leave.”
After the story caught on with local media, fans took to social media and sports radio to voice their digust, saying Canucks games are too quiet and could use a passionate boost.
Canucks’ goalie Cory Schneider said some players heard a bit of the cheering and liked the environment.
“We heard some of that, it reminded me of being back in Switzerland a little bit,” he said. “The cheering and chanting, we’re all for that. I think the guys like that stuff.”
Schneider said the cheering added to the atmosphere. “You can definitely hear it up there,” he said.
Graham said he’s not sure if he’ll come to another Canucks game, and that other Southsiders have vowed never to step foot at another game.
“I know some people are very upset,” he said. “If the team is actually stifling atmosphere, then that’s not a good thing for the Canucks.”
With files from CTV British Columbia’s Maria Weisgarber