Despite snow forecast, Montreal Impact confident Olympic Stadium will be ready for home opener
MONTREAL – Despite forecasts calling for up to three inches of snow this weekend, Olympic Stadium officials said this week that the venue's new weather protocol makes it less likely than in years past that the Montreal Impact's matchup against the Seattle Sounders will be postponed.
Impact executive vice president Richard Legendre told the media on Wednesday that while there is still some concern about snow accumulation on the roof of the 37-year-old facility, he expects the game to be played as scheduled on Saturday (4 pm ET, Univision Deportes, MLS Live).
A decision will be made 24 hours prior to kickoff, but unlike previous years, the new protocol allows for a game to be played at the stadium with some predicted snowfall. Under the new protocol, if the forecast does not exceed 3 cm (slightly more than 1 inch) of snowfall “during the game itself and specifically on the stadium,” the match can proceed.
“The weather changes a lot from day to day, and you must understand that we’re talking here about general forecasts for an entire area,” Legendre said. “So when we talk about 3 centimeters at the moment of the event specifically on the stadium, then the Olympic Park [management] can assess all of this much better.”
The Impact have never had a game postponed at Olympic Stadium (a match against Columbus at Saputo Stadium last April was postponed by one day), but the venue's old weather protocol called for games to be postponed based upon the slightest snowfall forecast.
Michel Labrecque, the Olympic Park president, explained that advanced measuring instruments on the stadium roof cables, coupled with a “quite costly” heating system, made for precise readings of a hopefully limited quantity of snow, which led to the snow protocol being altered. But the decision made on the eve of the game still relies mostly on weather analyses and roof conditions.
“The decision is not up to me as Olympic Park president,” Labrecque told reporters. “It’s up to our vice president and chief engineer, as well as his team.”
Should the game be postponed, kickoff would be delayed to Sunday at 4 pm ET, Legendre confirmed.
The Impact hosted five MLS games and one Canadian Championship contest at Olympic Stadium in 2012, averaging more than 32,600 fans per game and going 2-1-3. The indoor stadium was also used for the Impact's 2009 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Santos Laguna and last year's MLS opener against Toronto FC, both Montreal wins.