Soccer's supporters culture — and the in-game atmosphere that it creates — is sweeping the continent and entering into new arenas hosting other sports all the time.
Most recently it was the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks' creation of a "fan squad" section inside their arena to liven up its barren atmosphere. No word yet on how that's gone to start the current NBA season, but given the necessary freedoms to do their own thing night in and night out, it could certainly work.
Now it's the NHL's Ottawa Senators who are starting up their own soccer-inspired supporters section, the Red Scarf Union, inside their home arena, the Canadian Tire Centre. Their reasons are simple: the current atmosphere is dull, needs livening up and needs its newest generation of game-goers to get involved in a big way.
“Our challenge used to be: Get fans of Montreal and Toronto to cheer for Ottawa,” said Cyril Leeder, the Senators’ president. “Now we’ve got a younger generation of fans that only ever cheered for Ottawa. That’s the Red Scarf Union.
Here's the best part: Not only are they encouraged to bring the noise every night, but 295 tickets in the section are sold through the Red Scarf Union and offered at discounts of 50 percent or more from regular prices. The supporters section is on a 10-game trial basis and could be made a permanent fixture if the results are mutually beneficial.
“For those games, fans in that section can bring in drums and flags, they can stand up the whole time and they can make as much noise as they want,” Chris Atack, the Senators’ director for season-ticket and group sales, recently told the New York Times. “They still have to respect the code of conduct — no profanity, no drunkenness, no abusive language, no throwing things — but otherwise, be loud and have fun.”
Bonus: To see a man from the Red Scarf Union drink a beer from his shoe, check out this New York Times story and scroll down a ways.