Before the match between the Philadelphia Union and Columbus Crew SC kicked off, social media was abuzz with CBS3's Kevin Kinkead and CSN Philly's Dave Zeitlin tweeting out quotes from Union Sporting Director Earnie Stewart about the pitch conditions. The pitch at Talen Energy Stadium had hosted the NCAA D1 Women's Lacrosse Championship, and while most of the pitch looked fine, there were areas near the goals that looked worse for wear.
We have compiled a storify of tweets that catalog Kinkead and Zeitlin's quotes:
Zeitlin also wrote an article for MLSSoccer.com with quotes from Stewart and an outline of the process that the team goes through as far as booking events at the stadium. Many of us can remember going to matches where the field was trashed thanks to a lacrosse tournament, rugby tournament, lingerie football (remember that sexist dumpster fire?), and other events hosted at the stadium. And while Stewart may not want these events held at Talen Energy Stadium anymore, there are two things he has to consider: 1.) there are still events that contracts have been signed for and the stadium is obligated to host, and 2.) even when these contracts end, the club will most likely have to rent out the stadium in order to help defray operating costs.
There are questions about those costs, and rightfully so. Fans are worried that less events could mean a rise in ticket prices, although it's far too early to tell if any of this will happen. There have also been ideas floated as to what events could be held in the Union's offseason - which runs from November (December if they get on a deep playoff run) to the beginning of March, and is when the weather is at its worst with snow, ice, and sub-freezing temperatures. One good idea was a Winter Classic hockey game - even if it was between local college teams such as Penn State and the University of Delaware.
That's off in the speculative future though. For now, we know that there's a rugby sevens tournament being held there this weekend, and luckily John Torres and the grounds staff will have some time to repair the damage done before the Union host Harrisburg City Islanders FC in the U.S. Open Cup tournament on the 15th. That the pitch looked as good as it did last night is a testament to his efforts, however there's only so much he and his staff can do.
One last thought is that it was rather refreshing to see Stewart taking ownership of something that had an effect on the club but was clearly not his doing. This is the kind of leadership that the Union had been missing for so long, and it instills a sense of confidence in me that this club is on the right path under the guidance of the right man for the job.
Do you have ideas of what to host at Talen Energy Stadium during the offseason? Think hosting events there is bad altogether or a necessary evil? Let us know in the comments section below!