Colorado Avalanche: Thoughts on Disappointing Stadium Series Game

Except for fan interactions with each other and the entertainment,  the Colorado Avalanche’s Stadium Series game was a disappointment.

The Colorado Avalanche lost to the lowly LA Kings 3-1. Kings forward Tyler Tofolli scored the first ever Stadium Series hat trick.

That was the least frustrating and least disappointing part of the game. Oh, it was both disappointing and frustrating to see the Avalanche yet again fail on a big stage. And, yet again, fail to be merciless on a lesser opponent. And, yet again,  fail to take charge of their own destiny. (Dropped to third in the Central Division when they could have overtaken first.)

I mean, a lot of us aren’t even that surprised it was our own player,  Ian Cole, who laid goalie Philipp Grubauer out with a hip check that has injured our starting goalie as we bear down on our playoff run. Days since Cole’s last shenanigans: 0

No, all of that has left a bad taste in Avs fans’ mouths. It’s just everything else was so much worse.

Now, I have the great fortune to live in Denver but have traveled to Colorado Springs, the site of the Stadium Series game, fairly regularly.  So, I was prepared for the traffic and construction on I-25.

I’m even more fortunate to have a set of friends who live close to the Air Force Academy and who were kind enough to let us use their home as a base, especially since they were attending the game themselves. They even have knowledge of the base and its environs from their own experience. So, my experiences were a lot better than many fans’.

However, the first indicator that we were in for a… less than ideal experience was the Academy’s failure to prepare the fields that provided parking and the site of the Fan Fest. Fans alternated between slipping on the ice and sloshing around in the mud.

But, ok, we’ve had some snow recently. Plus, the Air Force Academy is trying to be sustainable. The grounds were a minor inconvenience.

So were the lines to get food. Luckily, we’d eaten ahead of time.  But all the fans who arrived with money in hand to buy food had to wait in long lines.

Ok, again, that’s expectable. Maybe the hours-long lines for some of the attractions– especially having your picture taken with the Stanley Cup– could also be expected. Hey, I was able to get a beer early on, so I was content.

Lines to get into the Falcon Stadium? They actually weren’t any worse than getting into Pepsi Center. If you went into the Fan Fest, you already cleared security. So, the lines to get in the actual stadium weren’t bad.

And then the next level of inadequacy hit. There is only one narrow concourse to serve the upper levels for both food and bathrooms, plus getting from one side to the other. So, if you get in line for one of those — and lines were long — you impeded the already trickling flow of traffic very quickly.

The cold and the hard stadium seats? We expected that. I had many layers on, and I rented a stadium back.

However, 10 minutes into the game, fans were reporting some concessions were running out of beer. Most ran out of both beer and food by the end of the game.

The absolute chaos of trying to leave the parking lot? No one expected that. None of the fans anyway. Here’s where my friends’ knowledge saved me. My friends and I got stuck in the parking lot for “only” an hour. Once we were able to get out of our spot, they knew to go the back way that claimed it was only for residents of that housing community.

Most fans waited over two hours to get out of that parking lot. Some literally had to walk. We’re talking a miles-long walk because it’s a big military installation. Ride shares either couldn’t or wouldn’t come onto the grounds.

Some fans trying to get to the game missed half of it due to problems getting on the grounds despite giving themselves hours of leeway. Others missed the game entirely because they were still sitting on the highway halfway through the game and decided to just go home.

There were even some reports that an attendee fell to his death from a bridge after the game.(Update: It has sadly been confirmed. Investigations are on-going.)

So, we as fans got the short shaft. We signed up for the cold. We signed up for the tight, uncomfortable seats. As Avs fans, we even signed up for the clown show our team put on.

We did NOT sign up for the layout of the stadium to be so poorly planned. And we most certainly did not sign up for a complete lack of planning concerning parking. There was not one single traffic cop guiding 45,000 people in or, especially, out of the stadium.

The clown show on the ice? That’s on the Colorado Avalanche players. The clown show of hosting a Stadium series game on an ill-equipped military base? That’s on the NHL. (Update: According to ESPN, both the NHL and the Avalanche refused to comment.)

The clown show of apathy about the needs of 45,000 guest on your grounds? That’s on Air Force. And I’m sure they, as the military, could care less. (I speak as the daughter of a 20-year army veteran.)

So, ultimately, the clown show is on the NHL and their incessant desire to fetishize the military. But, as a 25-year fan of an NHL team, I can tell you they care even less than the military.

Next: Hype for the Stadium Series Game

As far as the Colorado Avalanche go? Well, I’m not going to be surprised to see them drop out of playoff contention and make a run last minute. They do so love to play underdogs.

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