SBD/November 1, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Red Bulls, DC United Swap MLS Playoff Home Dates In Wake Of Hurricane Sandy

MLS Commissioner Don Garber called the decision "bigger than the sport of soccer"
The MLS yesterday announced that due to the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in the greater N.Y. area, the Red Bulls and DC United will alternate home dates in their upcoming Eastern Conference Semifinal series. United will now host the first leg on Saturday, with the Red Bulls hosting the return leg of the two-game, total-goal series next Wednesday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. (MLS). MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, "This was a tough decision, but one that we think is much bigger than the sport of soccer. I'd like to impress upon everybody that when we made this decision, we took into consideration all of the issues that will impact everyone involved and made the decision that we believe is in the best interest of all parties. ... We're going to try to utilize the mass media as much as we can and we're going to do everything possible with local media as well as other communication vehicles in order to get the word out as quickly as we can to all those fans who have purchased tickets for the game in D.C." He added, "We looked at all alternatives including moving the game to PPL Park [near Philadelphia], and we determined that the best solution was the one that we have come up with." Garber: "It was not a revenue decision at all. It was a decision that we believed, at this time, in order to make a decision in a timely fashion, where we can get TV broadcasters in line and assure that all fans and others could make their travel plans, we believe that making the decision on the switch was the right thing to do. We just were not able to make a decision which would have finalized PPL Park in time, and as such felt that this was the best choice" (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 10/31).

THAT'S LOGISTICS: In DC, Steven Goff notes United President & CEO Kevin Payne yesterday "bristled at the idea of relinquishing the second game at home," but then "agreed to the move" after discussions with Garber and Red Bulls GM Jerome de Bontin. The change was "a mixed blessing for United’s ticket office." The team will play at home on a weekend, "when attendance is historically larger," but the challenge is "selling tickets on short notice." Payne said that United had "sold about 10,000 tickets for the Wednesday home match." Goff reports fans who "aren’t able to attend Saturday may request a refund from the place of purchase." Sources said that MLS will "help pay for United’s marketing and public relations efforts in the coming days." MLS also has "agreed to lift the limit of 500 visiting fans for the return leg in New Jersey" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/1). de Bontin said that Red Bull Arena "was structurally sound and wasn't flooded, but was essentially without power and was expected to be throughout the weekend." de Bontin: "The water never made it to the field. We uncovered the field yesterday, and the field is in perfect shape. Water came all the way to the building, but never had water in the building" (N.Y. POST, 11/1).

NFL GAME LOOKING OK: ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday's Steelers-Giants game at MetLife Stadium "will go on and there shouldn’t be any interruptions." There are concerns about transportation to the stadium because “people are having a difficult time getting around the New York/New Jersey area right now with public transportation suspended.” It will “come back in partial service” on Thursday and “there may be complications with fans getting to the game on Sunday and frankly right now, that’s the least of everybody’s concerns” ("NFL Live,” ESPN, 10/31).
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