Local News

Coliseum Changes Policy After Anthem Brouhaha

Posted May 8, 2007 6:25 p.m. EDT
Updated May 9, 2007 7:55 a.m. EDT

— Thanks to a new rule at Fayetteville's coliseum, concessions workers now halt sales during the national anthem. The change came about after one man made his story heard.

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.

"My values and my staff's values were that we made it a point to honor the playing of the national anthem,” he said. “It didn't matter how busy we were.”

When someone from the coliseum told him in April that they couldn't interrupt business for the anthem, he quit.

“I'm just a man out here working, trying to make a living, and I made a stand for something that I strongly believe in,” said Waters, who works as a truck mechanic by day.

After WRAL interviewed Waters last week, Fox News came calling.

"I thought it was a joke at first,” he said. “I thought that some of my friends were playing with me."

After a week of enduring the media glare, the Crown Coliseum announced Saturday night that it's revising the old policy in honor of the Star-Spangled Banner.

"It did give us the opportunity on a national scale, to point out, once again, in this all-American city, that democracy worked,” said the Crown's chief operating officer, Rick Reno.

Reno said he approached his board, county commissioners, and even Fort Bragg about creating the new practice for vendors.

"Our practice is to instruct them to pause during the playing of the national anthem,” Reno said.

Waters said it’s a step in the right direction, and he’s been humbled by the attention. He also said that if Crown Coliseum asks him to come back, he would consider it.