The first angry boo of the 2002 NFL season hasn’t even been hollered from the 700 Level, but the Eagles aren’t taking any chances.
Fearing that their own fans can’t be trusted to behave, the team has banned the sale of plastic bottles at the Vet this season.
That includes all beverages. Beer, soda and water will be served in cups only.
A plastics industry rep ridiculed the ban, calling it, “off the deep end. “
The decision stems from a spectacular game-ending plastic-bottle barrage last December – not in Philadelphia, but 400 miles away, in Cleveland.
The bottles were flung when Browns fans protested the officiating in a game against Jacksonville. Two days later, the same thing happened in New Orleans.
Though Eagles fans have been known to exhibit their distaste for refs, opposing players and out-of-town fans, plastic bottles had not been a problem at the Vet. Nonetheless, the Eagles reacted to the Cleveland fiasco by banning the bottles at last year’s final regular season home game, against the Giants.
That ban will be extended through the entire season.
“It was a pre-emptive move on our part,” said Eagles spokesman Ron Howard.
“We just felt that it was in everybody’s best interest – the best interest of our fans – to end the sale of all plastic bottles,” he said.
Ticket-holders are prohbited from bringing their own plastic bottles and insulated jugs, too. The only beverages permitted are cardboard juice containers.
Though other NFL teams, including the Browns, have banned plastic beer bottles, the Eagles apparently are the first team to cut off sales of soda and water bottled in plastic as well.
(The bottles will continue to be sold at Phillies games at the Vet, where the few fans who bother to attend are presumably better behaved. )
“That really is off the deep end,” said Robert Krebs, spokesman for the American Plastics Council. “They are punishing all the parents and all the children who come to the game, because of the behavior of few fans in Cleveland. “
Plastic beer bottles, a relatively recent advance in packaging, were introduced at Phillies games in 1999. The Eagles OK’d their sale in 2001 on a trial basis.
Stadium vendors favor them because they are far quicker to dispense than individually poured cups of beer.
Krebs said industry surveys showed fans like them because they stay colder longer, and there is no noticeable change in taste.
“Plus, they don’t have to wait in ungodly lines to get served,” Krebs said. “When you pour, you have to wait for the foam to go down. “
He said fan behavior – not plastic bottles – is the problem.
“You could still take your shoes off and throw them if there’s a bad call,” Krebs said. “The owners of these stadiums really must stand up to their constituents and tell them this behavior is unacceptable.”