In our first installment of our flashback series we looked back at a match-up between the Houston Dynamo and CF Pachuca. In this edition, I was going to look back at another set of match-ups.
However, as a member of a Supporters Group, El Batallon, there is a large contingency within the group that misses the “feel” of our old home, Robertson Stadium. Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably know that old Robertson Stadium has been demolished and a new stadium is being built in it’s place.
There is no better moment to look back at and compare the differences between BBVA Compass Stadium and Robertson Stadium than now. Let’s travel back in time to another era, all the way back to 2006-2011, or as I call it, “Dynamo 1.0″.
Robertson Stadium is often times associated with better times. Parking was plentiful, and could even be free if you arrived more than 3 hours early. It was not a rare occurrence to park close to the stadium, and actually be able to see players walk past fans tailgating.
On more than one occasion, I remember going inside the stadium early to put up banners and bumping into Stuart Holden, Dwayne De Rosario, and others. The interaction between players and fans was really taken for granted in those early days.
The team did not feel like inaccessible professional athletes, they felt like part of your circle of family and friends. Often times we listen to Eddie Robinson complain about how certain MLS players have lost their blue-collar attitude and act more like divas.
Often times, I’m left wondering whether this is in large part due to the fact that they are treated like them now. Before BBVA Compass Stadium people did not have to redeem points for an autograph session with a certain player. Fans merely showed up early or stayed a little late.
This was all probably for the best, and for all we know players demanded less time with the fans and more privacy. If that’s the case, there’s one burning question to ask. Were we not performing better when the team was more accessible?
Could it possibly be that players now live in a bubble with so little fan interaction that they feel less responsibility towards the fans? It should be noted that the Dynamo are still more accessible to fans than any other team in this city. That’s coming from personal experience. No other team would hold retirement parties that are open to the public.
This comparison is merely being made between “Dynamo 1.0″, the Robertson Era, and “Dynamo 2.0″ which is now. During the Robertson Era players would celebrate among the fans when they scored a goal. Fans felt like they were part of the goal. Thus, many people felt a stronger connection with the team.
This connection then led to way more fan interaction, and I’m not only speaking about the supporter’s groups, but from fans all over the stadium. There were times when the supporter’s groups weren’t required to begin a chant, because fans around the stadium had already started them organically.
Then of course there were moments when the supporter’s groups made it a real party in the stands, and created memorable moments like unveiling a banner that covered the whole north end of the stadium. Not to mention the countless times that smoke bombs went off spontaneously, as opposed to being during front office approved times.
Now the only moments that we truly experience the same environment is during a playoff game, and even then it’s usually from the parts of the stadium that aren’t sections that were bought up by corporations.
Fans don’t remember Dynamo 1.0 with nostalgia because we brought home the MLS Cup twice in a row. The stadiums were rarely sold-out during those runs, especially the one in 2006. People recall the environment. Winning creates fans, but atmosphere keeps them coming back for more.
Most people looked past the fact that the food was stale, the stadium was in a bad area of town, and that you may bump into a rodent in the restroom. In order to be a part of something that was truly an experience like no other. Don’t get me wrong, Houston Dynamo games still have a better atmosphere in a single game than most other stadiums in Houston have in a season.
It should be noted, however, that BBVA Compass Stadium had to be built. The team were throwing money away on a lease that was making them lose any small amount of profit they had. Not to mention, professional athletes deserve state of the art facilities.
Houston Dynamo needed to look major league and the creation of Houston Sports Park and BBVA Compass Stadium was part of that transformation. However, sometimes I feel bad for the people that never experienced Robertson Stadium. It wasn’t pretty but it was a blast!