Rogers Place converted some women’s bathrooms to men’s bathrooms to more equally accommodate guests at Sunday’s Edmonton Oilers game and the move will remain in place Wednesday night.
“The plan is going to be similar to Sunday,” said Tim Shipton with the Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG).
“As we’ve done for many concerts here at Rogers Place where the crowd skews one gender or the other, the demographics — certainly we’ve seen, at concerts like John Mayer, the Lumineers, Dixie Chicks, Dolly Parton, where it’s a predominantly female crowd — we’ve switched washrooms from male to female.
“For Game 4 of our Oilers playoffs, where the demographics are predominantly male, we are going to switch one washroom on the main concourse, one washroom on the upper concourse,” Shipton said.
For Wednesday night’s game, women’s washrooms will be located in Sections 130 and 212.
Oilers fans don’t want to miss any of the action during playoff games, which has resulted in higher-than-normal demand for washrooms during the intermissions. The fact that Rogers Place is filled to capacity, with people packing the arena and Ford Hall, has added even more pressure.
“We also know the uniqueness of playoff games… our fans are staying until the final buzzer of the period,” Shipton said. “What that adds up to is pressure in the intermissions.”
Rogers Place staff had an operations meeting Wednesday morning as is standard before every major event. The issue of bathroom lineups and the number of men’s and women’s washrooms was discussed.
“When you have that many people in the building, when you have record levels of beverage consumption during playoff games, it puts pressure on the systems, all systems in the building from concession to guest service, safety and security and of course, our washrooms.”
On April 20, after complaints of long lineups for the men’s washrooms, the arena made changes. The OEG attempted to cut down on the wait times by adding a staff member to the washrooms to help point out empty stalls and put sticks on the floor to assist fans in knowing where to line up.
Then, after Sunday’s game, some female fans raised concerns that lineups for the women’s washrooms had increased. Some of the women’s bathrooms had been flipped to men’s in an attempt to reduce wait times for male fans.
“I go to the washroom that’s always the women’s washroom and it’s a men’s washroom,” Charlene Zacharuk said. “So we make our way three-quarters of the way around the building and the women’s washroom is 60 deep,” she explained.
“There was no lineup at the men’s washroom that was previously the women’s washroom, so that made it even more frustrating.”
Other fans at Sunday’s game said, depending on where you were in the arena, there wasn’t an issue with bathroom lines.
Susan Darrington, general manager of Rogers Place, said staff watch as people enter the arena to get an idea of the male-to-female ratio. She said they also survey season-ticket holders to try and get an idea of how many men are coming to a game compared to women.
“I think we actually feel good about what we’ve done,” she said, adding the waits for both men’s and women’s bathrooms are a little more even.
Rogers Place aims to have fans in and out of the bathrooms in about four minutes, a time Darrington said they were successful with in the regular season.
According to the City of Edmonton, there are 172 toilets and urinals required by code, while Rogers Place has 485. However, 160 of those have use restrictions, including company boxes, the Loge Level and Sportsnet Club. That leaves 325 public washrooms.
Shipton said the OEG has looked at its operational plans from top to bottom and a full operational review will take place after the playoffs to examine every aspect of the building, including washrooms and ways to improve. He said it could result in changes to the way the arena operates washrooms or even adding more washrooms if they’re needed.
— With files from Sarah Kraus, Global News