Three minutes till kickoff, and the crowd inside the men’s room near Section 751 is seething with the kind of anticipation that accompanies an afternoon of excessive beer consumption.
They gotta go, and they gotta go now.
Frothing with testosterone and alcohol, the fans are in no mood to wait for such delicacies as flushing the urinal.
Hurry, you hear someone plead, the Eagles won the coin-toss.
Near the rear, a husky guy wearing, appropriately, an old Watters jersey, sizes up the long line ahead and mutters an obscenity. Then he pulls down his zipper and whizzes into a sink.
His glazed eyes show no embarrassment for his unapologetic step from civility into depravity.
Because he ain’t the only one.
Welcome to Veterans Stadium: Wash your hands at your own risk.
Infested with vermin and coated in filth, the city-owned stadium is generally regarded as the worst in the NFL. The playing field is dangerously uneven, stands are rusting, railings are wobbly, the concession windows and kitchens are grimy, the escalators are crippled, the ventilation system is grease-filled, roaches crawl on food equipment, the cotton candy man picks his nose, and mice and pigeons defecate in the food areas.
And now this: sink urination.
It happens on any given Sunday. The Vet fills with 65,000 roaring fans, and its restrooms bulge. People pee in the damndest places.
“It’s definitely a problem,” said Municipal Judge Seamus McCaffery, who runs the stadium’s Eagle Court.
“I remember the first game we had [in 1997], one of the defendants was a guy from Lawrence County who got caught in the ladies’ room with his zipper down. He claimed he was lost, but we knew what he was doing. ”
Under the penal code, McCaffery can fine miscreants a maximum $300 for disorderly conduct.
“It’s a joke for some of them,” he said. “You get well-to-do suburbanites, they run over to the MAC machine and pull out the cash, then walk away laughing. ”
Charles Carmody, a season-ticketholder in the 600 level, said he’s complained about Vet sink urination to no avail.
“It’s not an isolated incident,” said Carmody, of Gwynedd Valley, Montgomery County. “Every game, you see guys peeing in the sinks. ”
(Notably, the sink plague is confined to men’s rooms. Because so few women attend Eagles games, the Vet is one of the few venues where the line at the ladies’ room is short enough to forestall urinary unpleasantries. )
Fans say the gross behavior is especially prevalent in the 700 level, where the restrooms tend to be smaller and the fans are rowdier.
That’s where the Daily News staked out a john at the start of Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.
An hour before game time, it was basically clean and empty. A worker even stopped by to sweep up loose paper towels.
Fifteen minutes before kickoff, the urinals were two deep. Ten minutes later, 35 men waited for an opening at a half dozen urinals, and the line reached outside the door.
Most had rushed into the stadium from daylong tailgate parties in the parking lots, where only a few scattered port-o-johns provide relief. Frantically hoping to make a quick pit stop on the way to their seats, they met with frustratingly long waits.
As the seconds ticked down till kickoff, the tension grew. Burly guys with tattoos and half-filled plastic cups danced and squirmed like girls.
Finally, the guy in the Watters jersey broke the ice.
Buzzed on Bud and smelling of reefer, he relieved himself with a disgusting splash.
There were no cops or security guards on the scene. No one complained.
Instead, a guy wearing a black Eagles cap and striped Zubaz pants said, “That’s the ticket, dude. ” Then he pulled open his fly and filled another sink.
God only knows how many other basins were soiled on this night. . .or how many fans later attempted to wash their hands with the spritzed spigots.
“Anytime I see someone use the sinks to wash, I tell them not to use them,” said Carmody. “I saw a young father bring his children in and he was helping them wash up in the sinks. I told him of the problem. . .
“But it’s useless. ”
Much of the problem is pure numbers. On the 700 level, there are more than 30 places to buy a beer. . .and fewer than 10 to deposit it.
“They just don’t have enough facilities for this many people drinking that much beer,” said Steve Cross, a 700-level fan from Croydon, Bucks County.
The restrooms are so crowded, the stadium must truck in extra port-o-johns. Most are placed in nooks along the 300- and 500-level concourses.
“You go to other stadiums, and they’ve got TVs in the bathrooms,” said Cross. “Here, they’re so antiquated, you’ve got to go in a smelly outhouse. ”
Other, older arenas – 80-year-old Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, for example – suffer similar restroom problems, according to knowledgable fans.
But the much younger Vet suffers even further from malignant neglect. As it continues to seek new facilities for both the Eagles and Phillies, the city has cut spending on improvements at the 29-year-old stadium.
The place is falling apart
A recent engineering study of Veterans Stadium recommends more than $82 millions in repairs.
“The current facilities,” said the study, referring to the restrooms, “are inadequate in their numbers and locations. . .. ”
The study, by the firm Ewing Cole Cherry Brott, recommended nearly $2 million in repairs and additions to stadium restrooms. It also advised that the stadium undertake a “full-scale cleaning. . .with a strong disinfectant” to eliminate odors.
Those recommendations are under City Council review.
Meanwhile, fans are solving the urine trouble themselves.
Some leak on the ramps, in dark corners and in trash cans.
Others spray the sinks.
“That’s disgusting. That’s why some of the guys use this,” said Cross, pointing to an empty antifreeze jug. Two hours before kickoff, it was three-quarters filled.
IF YOU GO
Restrooms are less-than-conveniently located throughout the concourses at Veterans Stadium. They are clearly marked – either “Men” or “Women” – though on unannounced occasions those designations are meaningless.
Most male patrons frequent the popular urinals, which provide both uncompromising relief and a distinctive scent de pissoir.
Others prefer an alfresco experience at a variety of unexpected locations, including washroom sinks, trashcans and almost any dark corner.
Warning: the facilities are extremely popular during timeouts and between quarters. Twenty-minute waits for service are not unusual.
Reservations are not accepted.