Pace Faces Seating Issues in New Athletic Facilities

Fans spectating the first field hockey game at Finnerty Field Wed. Sept. 16.

JAMES MIRANDA, Sports Editor

Pace Stadium’s new grandstands have turned out to be somewhat of a bother to fans, as overcrowding has become a real issue at games.

When women’s soccer hosted their first regular season game in the new Pace Stadium, a total of 175 fans came to watch the Setters win 3-0 over Queens College. Two days later 1250 fans came to watch Setters football win 36-23 over Ave Maria.

The gap between the two games may simply suggest two different fan bases and a timing issue. Soccer played an evening game on a Thursday night and football had an afternoon game on a Saturday. However, it may have also exposed some flaws in the renovated athletic fields.

“My friends and I could not even find a seat,” freshman Theodore Petrides said. “It was definitely too little seats for too many people. It is just way too little seats if [fans] are coming from both schools.”

The new bleachers are able to seat around 1000 fans, a vast upgrade from the 700-seat capacity from the old field. During the first football game the stands were jam-packed with a lot of fans left standing on the walkways or the stairs leading up to the bleachers.

People were also standing in the front, obstructing other fans’ view and taking away from the game.

“[Fans] just had to be reminded to move and they moved,” said Dean of Students Lisa Bardill Moscaritolo, who attended the first football game. “No one was being rude and most of the people realized they were standing in the way because [the game] was exciting.”

It may have not been a direct result of overcrowding, but students were seen watching the game from the Choate parking lot and the hill by Lienhard Hall. According to Petrides, he saw students up there during both games.

Orange fencing was put up the day before the first football game.

“[The fences] are there for safety purposes,” Athletics Director Mark Brown said. “Best practices, with respect to game management, would suggest that all patrons are inside [Pace Stadium] for everyone’s safety and the best fan experience.”

It is fine to stand up there and watch, but just not going past the orange markers.

Students think that it would be fine if seating on the hill was present not because of overcrowding, but to separate the home team from the away team.

“It was not necessarily the standing that detracted from the fan experience, it was the fact that I was sitting next to large groups of fans from the opposing team,” Petrides said. “I always thought that fan bases should be separated. There is that hill on the opposite side [of the bleachers] that is completely open that can be used for seating arrangements.”

According to Brown, the Master Plan’s phase 1A for Pace Stadium did include stands on the hill by Choate House and Goldstein Fitness Center.

Besides it being a safety issue, it is also a free way to watch the game with a different vantage point.

“We went to the game to check it out and then we saw that it was overcrowded,” said junior Alex Coma, who watched the game from the Choate parking lot. “I would assume that for a college campus it would be able to seat the campus.”

However, this was foreseen, since there will be a pavilion and additional seating by the Ianniello Field House extension building.

“Once construction is complete, there will be more room by the area around the Ianniello Field House and the remaining plaza areas outside the stadium,” Brown said. “We will also have the ability to add an additional 400-500 spectators with temporary seating in the end zone and standing room.”

Spectators having to stand on the hill were also an issue for the other field, Finnerty Field.

Field hockey played its first home game Wed., Sept. 16 and won 2-1 against Long Island University Post. 200 fans came to watch, but most of them were standing.

“Yeah there was some problems with [the seating],” Bardill Moscaritolo said. “[Athletics] is working on it and trying to figure things out, but that is a part of the growing pains.”

According to Brown, all athletic facilities will be finished mid-November. Additional bleachers are planned for Finnerty Field. There will be three spots for bleachers and will seat around 300 plus standing room.

The renovations are a part of the Master Plan, which collectively contemplates a budget of 100 million dollars.

“We had a budget that we need to work on and just like anything else you have to make trade offs,” Bardill Moscaritolo said. “I do know that there is the ability down the road to add on. I would not call [the overcrowding] a flaw, but you have to make decisions on a budget.”


Orange fencing restricting fans from watching games past the point from the hill above Pace Stadium.
James Miranda/The Pace Chronicle
Orange fencing restricting fans from watching games past the point from the hill above Pace Stadium.