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Published January 15 2014

Forum editorial: Potty hell at dome’s big concert

There’s a new definition of “potty mouth,” and it has little to do with bad language. The restroom situation that developed Saturday night at the Fargodome’s Pink concert is becoming the stuff of legend. The cumulative effect of the stories – some funny, some not so funny – rivals high praise for the concert, which by all accounts was one of the dome’s best.

But it was the overwhelmed capacity of the women’s bathrooms that was the talk of the town Sunday morning. The concert crowd of more than 21,000 was estimated to be something over 70 percent female. The bathroom requirements of women are different from men’s – both in facilities design and time needed to take care of business. The mostly female Pink concert-goers tested the dome’s bathrooms, and the dome lost.

The anecdotal material is a hoot:

A youngish man at a urinal in the men’s restroom turns to see several women standing behind him, having pushed into the men’s room, waiting for stalls to open up – to the great surprise of men exiting the stalls.

Other women are so desperate they attempt to use the men’s stand-ups. That takes a very tall woman, a step ladder or a gymnastics stunt of uncommon skill.

A dome staffer tries to manage women with bladders full by letting some into a men’s bathroom, then letting men in, then women – well, you get it. It didn’t work, and he apparently risked being trampled by men and women who just had to go.

One young woman who used a men’s restroom summed it up for a broadcast reporter: “It was potty hell in there,” she said.

Funny as some of this is, there is a serious side. The public health question is not to be ignored. Conditions in the overtaxed bathrooms were reported to be less than pristine. There were young kids at the concert, but expected standards of bathroom privacy, decorum and access could not be maintained. Is there a liability issue?

The Fargodome is not alone with the bathroom capacity problem. It seems many big entertainment venues were designed by men who lack a complete understanding of women’s restroom requirements. The dome has confronted the bathroom capacity situation before, and did make adjustments for the Pink concert by repurposing some of the men’s restrooms. Clearly, it was not enough.

More concerts are on the dome’s winter and spring calendar. Some will have special appeal to women, like the Pink concert did. But unless dome management goes with porta-potties on the concourse (highly unlikely), look for repeats of Saturday’s “potty hell.”

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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.