'Orange Crush' bathroom rush puts pressure on all systems
As Oilers fans flood downtown Edmonton, the city is reminding them to please pee responsibly.
"LET'S 'GO' ... in an appropriate place," reads one sign with an arrow pointing to a cluster of porta-potties in Michael Phair Park.
The city installed four temporary toilets in the park to divert a stream of rogue public urinators.
An unusually high volume of people downtown during the NHL playoffs prompted the move, according to city spokesperson Sarah Meffen.
"These signs are simply a 'cheeky' way of reminding fans where these extra washrooms are located," she wrote in an emailed statement.
Toilet troubles have also flushed out complaints from fans at Rogers Place. Some have reported wait times as long as 30 minutes during period breaks.
Rogers Place has 485 toilets, with 320 of those on the main and upper concourses where they are accessible to most fans.
The number of washrooms at Rogers Place exceeds those at other recently built NHL facilities in Canada and the United States, according to Oilers Entertainment Group spokesperson Tim Shipton.
But the playoffs have tested the building's ability to keep lineups flowing, he added.
At capacity, the arena can seat 18,000 for a hockey game. Tickets during the Oilers' 2017 playoff run have routinely sold out.
Instead of the steady trickle of bathroom-goers that's typical during concerts, hockey fans tend to hold out until after the buzzer to rush to the restroom.
Record-setting beverage sales are compounding the problem, Shipton said. Hockey fans down more drinks and consume more beer kegs than at any other event since Rogers Place opened last year.
"There is pressure on the overall system," Shipton said.
"We want our fans to be as loud and excited as possible, but of course we want people to be respectful as well of the areas they're in."
Rogers Place is trying to relieve the pressure with 30 portable washrooms outside the arena.
Some female washrooms are also temporarily being converted to male washrooms during Oilers games. The male-to-female fan ratio has skewed male during the playoffs, Shipton explained.
"One of the things we've heard is, 'Are you picking on females?' And of course it's not that," he said.
Rogers Place has converted male washrooms during concerts such as Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, the Lumineers and John Mayer for the same reason.
"It's all added up to some successes but [it's] still a work in progress," Shipton said.
If complaints continue, he said Rogers Place will consider retrofitting more washrooms, "but that won't happen until the end of the season, which hopefully isn't for a long time."