Bell Pitch at Empire Field update
After a frustrating and disappointing start to the weekend, mother nature appears to have turned a more favourable eye on Vancouver, and Empire Field in particular.
Yesterday's MLS match featuring Vancouver Whitecaps FC versus Real Salt Lake was postponed due to extreme levels of rainfall, which made the newly-laid temporary grass pitch at Empire Field unplayable. Although club and stadium crews had been working since Thursday to divert continuous rainfall from the pitch, ultimately league and match officials, in cooperation with both clubs, determined as match-time approached that player safety would be compromised by the levels of water on the pitch. They made the final decision to postpone just over two hours prior to the scheduled 1 p.m. kickoff. Since then, club and stadium crews have continued to work around the clock to protect the pitch from further rainfall, and determine the best plan for drainage and airing in order to provide an optimum playing surface for the club’s next match - an international friendly versus Manchester City FC this Monday, July 18, at 7 p.m. PT.
Upon reviewing the pitch just before midnight last night, Whitecaps FC chief operating officer Rachel Lewis reported, “We need to wait for a break in the rain before we can do anything further. Based on the forecasts, we are hoping for that break by the morning.” With respect to next steps to ensure a playable surface for Monday, Lewis indicated that a tentative weather-based plan is in place. “Assuming we get that break in the weather, the plan will likely include a process of using water vacuums to suction water off the tarps, and then remove the tarps. With the help of experts, we will then be able to assess the bare pitch and determine whether it can safely and effectively air dry.”
At 8 a.m. PT this morning, the Bell Pitch at Empire Field was bathed in a welcome sunny glow. Although ominous rain clouds continued to circle, the club and stadium operations team were encouraged enough by present conditions and the forecast, to start delicately removing the rain soaked tarps that had covered the pitch overnight.
For more on yesterday's postponement, click here.