Millions are without power and won’t be for weeks. Dozens have died. Floods have wiped out coastal neighborhoods. Transportation, including the PATH to Harrison, NJ have been halted for the foreseeable future.
Hurricane Sandy has decimated New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and practically halted life and movement in the world’s busiest city.
Though many concerns outweigh the importance of a simple playoff series, people do look for creature comforts to ease their lives back to normalcy after tragedy. For Red Bull fans, the club’s statement regarding the state of Red Bull Arena was a welcome sign; rumors of flooding and damage to the infrastructure were seemingly exaggerated. Still, with no electricity or public transportation, the Red Bulls fell short of assuring the playoffs would be held in the Arena on Saturday night as scheduled.
Venue changes could be an option for the team, though other facilities have suffered as well. One option that simply won’t be considered, however, is swapping the dates of the playoff leg matches between New York and D.C., effectively conceding home field advantage to the Red Bulls. Just ask Kevin Payne.
Taking a hardline after the storm, D.C. United President told the Washington Post “We haven’t discussed scenarios, but I wouldn’t support that.”
The immediate rejection leaves New York the choice of opening Red Bull Arena or choosing another venue. If they choose to stay in Harrison, it may cause the township to stretch already thin city resources. Harrison has been without power since 5pm Monday night. Many of their streets are flooded. Officers who would otherwise assist in traffic control are being assigned to more pressing matters. Transportation would be limited to driving, only further exasperating the situation.
There is no telling if the situation would be better come Saturday either.
As for the availability of other venues, that too would be a concern under the circumstances and short notice. The most viable choice would be MetLife Stadium, where the Giants would take the field at 4pm the next day. Citifield is surrounded by flood waters and there is no word on whether Yankee Stadium would be an option, though reports say the venue made it through the storm just fine.
In a best case scenario, this would all be a moot point and Red Bull Arena would host the first game without the help of public transportation. At worst, the team may be at a loss for a venue to host their match. The most logical option would be to have New York concede the first leg match to DC and take on the second to preserve fairness. Even playing both matches at RFK would have been a better response from the United President. Instead, Payne’s outright rejection has made it clear; they are unwilling to budge, even under the circumstances.
Unfortunately, sport trumps tragedy in this instance.