Charlotte FC changes severe weather policy during delayed matches
“we were very grateful to play in front of that crowd that stayed,”
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A big Saturday night Charlotte FC game was halted for more than three hours due to rain and lightning in the area, and has some fans speaking out about what to do in this situation.
Fans who were inside were forced to take cover in the concourse, meaning thousands of fans standing shoulder to shoulder, some even sitting on the ground.
Saturday marked the third match there was a weather delay that led to frustrated fans waiting for the match to kickoff.
After feedback from fans in prior matches, Charlotte FC made updates to their policy on letting fans inside the stadium.
Scott Fishkin of Greensboro said, “as the clock kind of kept ticking, I was a little more and more dejected in terms of I don’t think this game’s going to happen.”
Although fans waited hours, Charlotte FC tells WBTV the policy was updated before Saturday’s match so people can continue into the stadium during delays.
A video sent to WBTV shows a fan saying, “this is what it’s like to be trapped inside Bank of America Stadium during a weather delay.”
Part of the policy reads that when lightning is detected within 8 miles of the stadium, a shelter-in-place is triggered, meaning fans and athletes must exit the stadium bowl and field.
The old policy meant security screening outside the stadium would stop too because it was in the open.
Charlotte FC made changes so screening will continue during delays but in sheltered locations so personnel can remain safe, and fans can seek safety inside the stadium concourse.
Christian Lattanzio, Charlotte FC Head Coach said, “I’ve never been in a position where the game was actually rescheduled, I’ve been in a position where the game was delayed, I’ve been in a position where the game stopped and then restarted, I’ve never been in a position where it was delayed, stopped and abandoned.”
Fans sent us photos and videos from the delayed game that was ultimately postponed by Major League Soccer 16 minutes into it finally starting.
MLS match delay and postponement policy:
“The determination of whether a match is considered “delayed” or “postponed” shall be made by the League Office in its sole and absolute discretion.
Once the League Office has made a determination that a match is “postponed,” the League Office shall issue an official communication confirming the match is “postponed.” Matches may be delayed or postponed when circumstances exist such that the start or continuation of play would pose a threat to the safety of participants or spectators.”
“I’m looking at the radar, you still see rain’s coming for the next four, five hours. And yeah, we were kind of in limbo,” said Fishkin.
Charlotte FC updated the policy after getting feedback from frustrated fans and not wanting them to feel trapped outside the stadium in severe weather.
“It took a lot of patience, a lot of perseverance, a lot of resilience to keep staying in the stadium and we were very grateful to play in front of that crowd that stayed,” said Coach Lattanzio.
Charlotte FC says for future games, fans should be on the lookout for push alerts, social media updates and emails about weather procedures.
Charlotte FC announced Tuesday that the postponed game from this past weekend against Columbus Crew is rescheduled for October 5th at 7 pm, and the match will start in the 16th minute, the same time it was halted Saturday night.
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