I remember working many day and night games at this stadium during my tenure from March 2003 to March 2014. When I first started working these games, I was naive and not knowing that working these games would be tiresome at times. I was so excited to work a football game and knowing that I had the benefit of working and watching the game at the same time. Although it wasn’t working a professional football game, the atmosphere at the beginning for me was pretty awesome. At the time I took this picture back in October 2012, it was still named Byrd Stadium. Now that the name has changed to Maryland Stadium it hasn’t changed the nostalgia of the stadium or feeling; at least I don’t think it has.
It wasn’t long before I started working the games that I found myself on the football field behind either the away bench or home bench. Looking up into the crowds to make sure they were behaving was less appealing and not as much fun as to watch the game live happening in front of you. Sometimes your fun was disrupted by a complaint coming in from either a fan or you was dispatched to handle a problem. More than likely your issue was dealing with someone throwing objects, being belligerent due to alcohol, which led to them being tossed out and medical emergencies. Often times at the beginning of the game, or just before kick-off, I would work the gates and make sure people didn’t trample each other entering the stadium. Sometimes that alone would make for an interesting duty.
Too many times we would work the stadium gates and have to respond to a complaint because the ticket taker was having an issue with a patron. I couldn’t say for sure if our problems were mostly home fans or the visiting fans from other universities and regions. I do know that when we ever had West Virginia and Maryland play each other, our problems always doubled from our previous game. For whatever reason the people of WV and MD don’t like each other and can’t sit and enjoy a game without having a good time, and just cheer for your team! Nope! Fights and disturbances always reign between these two universities, but more so for the fans than the players on the field themselves. Many issues at the stadium gates between these two loyalists and dealing with ticket scalpers added to the problem at times. Just dealing with ticket scalpers period was a tough issue and could be a pain in the ass. Some would respect the rule of being at least 300 feet away from the stadium, but you had some that just didn’t give a damn!
If I remember correctly I had one arrested in one of my final years there, and discovered that he had an open warrant! HAHAHA!! Of course, the beauty of working at the stadium was that if an arrest was made you called a patrol unit to handle the case for you, all you did was give them the summary of what happened. The downside to working the stadium, or any athletic event, was you could be the single contact person for any students that needed discipline. That duty sucked balls! However, I lucked out one briefing when I was picked to be that contact person, but I was saved by God Himself when another officer came into briefing later than me and was named the OSC (Office of Student Conduct) Referral contact person. You know I dodged a huge bullet there! So I went through my eleven years of only being the contact person for student discipline ONCE! Instead of this role being rotated it was more used as a form of punishment for officers who were in need of discipline.
The best part of working inside the stadium was that you got to work the alumni sections, and not have as many problems. Once in a while you would have someone that needed to be ejected or be talked to, but it was usually quiet in the sense of having problems. When I came back from Afghanistan though I had to request that I be placed on the opposite side of the stadium of the celebration cannon. That loud blast and concussion of being near the cannon was just too much for me to deal with, especially if the Terrapins scored all the time! My goodness the cannon would just go non-stop sometimes. Because of my tour overseas I had to stop working overtime events on the 4th of July! The fireworks do the same thing and it appears to have gotten worse as the years go by. However, the food at the stadium was okay, but never try to eat a funnel cake when it is windy! Food for thought. Trying to avoid that powdered sugar from being placed all over your uniform is very difficult when suddenly winds pick up prior to a storm.
When the stadium put in the new field, which is depicted in the photo above, it did not make things easier for us standing on the field. Especially if you are the not so lucky ones to be standing on the black portion of the field, where the temperatures skyrocketed and displayed much hotter than the air temp. Thankfully I only had to deal with that new design for about one season before turning in my stuff and coming north. Even though I don’t have the worry of working the stadium and football games anymore, I often think of just going back home to enjoy watching a game. Sitting in the very stadium that I once worked week in and week out from late August to November. This stadium hosted more than just football games.
If you never heard of an event called the “Art Attack” then don’t feel bad. However, even people who were not from the area knew what it was and discovered that other places around the country host the same event. Having brand name artist and bands coming to the area only spiked up the people who wanted to attend. Of course, when the Art Attack came to town WEED was the choice of nearly everyone’s activity to enhance the fun. Sometimes you would see the smoke just hover over the crowd and drift down on to the field, penetrating your sense of smell. Situations like this never made sense for us to go after people who were smoking it because of the crowds, little to no light and if shit popped off it would be very difficult to get to you. However, if we found someone who was in possession of it or selling it, and they were within arms reach, they got yanked up and either cited and released or taken to see the steel bars. I hated working the Art Attack events, and sometimes just hoped that I was working patrol instead but that wasn’t always a good thing either. Dealing with the crowds leaving the stadium and dealing with issues in the parking lots was just as bad if not worse.
If you didn’t enjoy working the games, which pretty much every officer on the roster did whether it was your day off or not, you sometimes had to choose the lesser of the two evils for yourself. For me, I’d rather work the interior of the stadium than work the traffic control details, which many stayed after we all left the stadium. Dealing with the jammed traffic and impatient motorists was sometimes a task in itself, but never a dull moment. You worked the stadium, and after the game was over, you may be done once the crowds leave the premises, but might get lucky and stay behind to watch the concession money that is being collected. Working traffic control was a pain in the ass most times, but depending on the event wasn’t the worse detail in the world. When I was working I always thought about how it would feel to finally watch a game on television and not work it or worry about working it; that day has finally come and it is great!