Local News

Coliseum Vendor Walks Away From Pizza for Patriotic Pride

Posted May 2, 2007 6:43 p.m. EDT

— A Fayetteville man felt that when he had a choice — pizza or patriotism — there was no choice. He went with country over commerce.

The Crown Coliseum told Joe Waters that he had to keep passing out pizza when the national anthem was being played during events. Waters had been selling Spinners pizza at a concession stand, but he and his people would stop and stand at attention during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Customers had to wait, and Waters said no one complained.

"We would stand aside and stand in attention and honor the playing,” said Waters, whose full-time job is being a truck mechanic.

It went that way until one night as a FireAntz hockey game was about to begin. Somebody from the coliseum said Waters could not interrupt business for the national anthem.

"I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to sell during the playing of the national anthem. It's not right," Waters said. And he quit.

Crown Center management says the coliseum is no different than any other in the Southeast—concessionaires must continue sales at all times during an event.

Rick Reno, the Crown's chief operating officer, said in a phone interview that all concession stands are in the concourse area. It is not, he said, that hawkers are selling in the stands during the anthem. That, he said, would not be allowed.

In Waters’ view, though, all vendors can stop for 90 seconds.

“We have had people that have died in harm’s way, right now — in this town, Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, friends and neighbors,” he said.

Spinners Pizza of Fayetteville decided to follow Waters’ example and not to do business anymore at the Crown Coliseum.

Waters said he might take the matter to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners.