SBD/July 8, 2013/Events and Attractions

Rowdy Fans, Brawls Plague Las Vegas Soccer Game; Questions Arise About Security

The "El Super Clasico" exhibition match between Liga MX teams Club America and Chivas de Guadalajara last Wednesday at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas had “rowdy fans and massive brawls among Mexican soccer fans,” and that has supporters “worrying that major clubs may avoid the area in the future,” according to Riley Snyder of the LAS VEGAS SUN. Fans “brawled in a parking lot before the game and on the field” and the game “ended with hundreds of fans on the field.” Dozens of people “were injured throughout the night, including six in a pregame parking lot fracas.” Their behavior at Las Vegas’ “first high-profile soccer match” since last August has “fans worried that major soccer clubs might see the area as less attractive.” ESPN Deportes Las Vegas Program Dir Alvaro Puentes said that match organizers “should take a cue from Mexican stadium security, which has separate entrances for fans of opposing teams and don’t allow glass bottles or other possibly dangerous projectiles into the stadium.” Puentes said, “This was a really, really bad day for soccer in Las Vegas. There is another soccer game coming soon between Morelia and a team from El Salvador and I heard that maybe they will cancel the game because this was so bad.” Stadium manager Mike Newcombe said that officials “blamed the fights mainly on the behavior of unruly fans.” He said, “We unfortunately can’t control everyone’s behavior” (LAS VEGAS SUN, 7/5).

PRESSING CONCERN: In Las Vegas, Ray Brewer wrote, “Most of us witnessing the chaos before and after an exhibition soccer game between heated Mexican rivals felt cheated. Some of us also felt threatened.” The game “turned out to be an absolute disaster thanks to idiotic actions from a few groups of fans,” and they “might have ruined any chance of big-time soccer returning.” Security “needs to be immediately addressed.” If Las Vegas “wants to be considered a major league town, we can’t have rookie-level security crews and strategies.” The on-field security “provided wasn’t from professionals, it was game-day workers with little training” (LASVEGASSUN.com, 7/4). The LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’s Ron Kantowski noted “judging by the headlines and the message boards, people question whether top-flight soccer, or even Major League Soccer, should return to Las Vegas.” He added, “My opinion remains resolute: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If stadium security “would have read multiple stories in this newspaper about the intensity of the Mexican soccer rivalry ... perhaps faces don’t get bloodied, and flares don’t get hurled onto the field.” Once people “move on and reaction from this thoughtless knee-jerking subsides -- and somebody thinks they can make another buck on exhibition soccer -- then the New York Red Bulls might play Sporting Kansas City at Sam Boyd Stadium” (REVIEWJOURNAL.com, 7/7).

NEW VIBE: In San Diego, Matt Calkins noted the Club America-Liga MX club Tijuana Xolos exhibition on Saturday night at Petco Park, dubbed the San Diego Clasico, was “definitely not a Padres game.” There were “fans in the upper deck,” as well as “bands in the parking lot.” Petco Park “got a shot of Red Bull that it hadn’t felt in a while,” and the event was “5-Hour Energy personified.” For a friendly “involving a Xolos team without five of its starters, there was a remarkable buzz in the park.” Calkins: “At Petco Park, you couldn’t have taken the crowd out of it with tear gas and a SWAT team” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/7).

HOST WITH THE MOST? In San Jose, Elliott Almond noted San Jose State Univ.'s Spartan Stadium on Saturday hosted a doubleheader in front of a “crowd of 22,389.” Latin Entertainment promoter Rene Villanueva previously has hosted games at Candlestick Park, O.co Coliseum, Sacramento and Fresno. But “none of those events resembled the shows at Spartan Stadium with six Mexican teams in San Jose in the span of six days.” Villanueva said, "San Jose is a better market for soccer. I don't know why" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 7/7).
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