|By Raj Giri||January 27, 2013 | Comments|
Yesterday the fan fest was pretty much a huge CF. It was raining pretty hard for Phoenix just about all day. The event itself was delayed over an hour. It was supposed to start at noon and people didn't start getting in until after 1. It appears that the delay was due to the weather and the WWE and the US Airways Center trying to work out an alternative on the fly. It seems like really poor planning on both of their parts as the forecast had been calling for rain for several days in advance, so in my opinion they should have already had their "back up" plan in place rather than trying to figure it out the day of.
The result was that the ring was moved into the smaller lobby area inside the arena. Not to where the actual event was going to be, mind you, where there would have been plenty of room for the fans to spread out and grab seats so they could actually see. No, they put it in the lobby and created a huge mess. It was standing room only. There was no access to the restrooms inside the facility. Even though it was raining like hell outside and they moved the event into the lobby, they would not let anyone use the restrooms in the facility. You had to go back outside in the rain to where the portable toilets were set up. The other problem was that the fire marshal showed up and deemed that the crowd exceeded the safety capacity of the lobby area (no shock there and yet another reason why they should have moved inside the actual arena) so some people who had tickets were told they had to exit and watch from outside and other people who had tickets that hadn't got inside yet were told they'd have to remain outside in the rain and watch through the window.
Many people who were "walk ups" were told that the event was sold out, when it really wasn't, simply because moving the event into the lobby meant that there was not enough capacity for everyone that was there. I saw several families, children, etc. who had been waiting in the rain for a few hours turned away at the gate. Many patrons complained that they had called that morning and the day before, specifically due to the weather situation (i.e. they wanted to know if the event was going to be canceled due to rain and if so they were going to stay home) and were told that the event was going on as scheduled and that they could get tickets when they got there. Other patrons who had purchased tickets the day(s) before, who were going to pick their tickets up at will call, were also turned away at the gate because the organizers hadn't set up any access to will call that they could get to without going through the ticket checkpoint. Eventually these folks were admitted to will call after the organizers set up a pathway for them to get to the will call window without going through the gate to the event itself, but that was an even longer delay and yet another sign of how unprepared US Airways was for the event and the rain.
By the time my family and I got in we were pretty much soaked from the rain but we were able to get inside the lobby. We didn't move from our spot because we saw other people who went outside to use the rest rooms who were then refused reentry by the fire marshal. There were basically no sight lines to the ring itself because the crowd was huge (several hundred to a thousand or more), there were no seats so it was totally standing room only and if you did find any place that you could stand on (like the bottom of the stairs or escalator) you were quickly told by building staff that you were not allowed to stand there and in some cases patrons who tried were ushered outside. Add to that the number of parents who hoisted their young children up on their shoulders so they could see and you'll hopefully understand why we couldn't see very much of the ring.
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