COLUMBUS – Crew president Mark McCullers said his organization, like all in MLS, have plans for stadium emergencies to keep fans, players and staff safe.
But he was met with a new challenge Saturday when 25 minutes before the scheduled kick-off, speaker cabinets in the top part of the videoboard erupted in flames above the south stands.
The Columbus Fire Department brought in several ladder trucks and extinguished the fire while the sections containing fans were cleared.
There were no injuries reported and the match started 50 minutes late as the Crew defeated D.C. United 3-0.
"I've got to tell you, I don't think there's a page in our book that talks about scoreboard fires, but fires in general are part of our safety plan," McCullers said at a postgame press conference."Our staff did a fantastic job of quickly getting with the police and fire department to get the area secured so that our fans were not in any harm in terms of their safety."
He said postponing the match was not discussed after the fire was contained.
"Once they got the fire under control they quickly gave us the green light to move forward with the game," McCullers said. "That told me their assessment was pretty clear that we're safe to move on."
Fire marshals will inspect the videoboard Monday and McCullers said he will have a better idea then of the damage.
The Crew play at home on May 4 and McCullers said contingency plans will be made if the 15-year-old videoboard is inoperable.
"We should have some form of audio and video for the game, either our current scoreboard or some other situation," he said.
There was no sound system or replays for the match and the Nordecke supporters section unprompted led the crowd of 14,090 in singing the Star-Spangled Banner before the game.
"It gave me goosebumps," Crew midfielder Dominic Oduro said.
Craig Merz covers the Columbus Crew for MLSsoccer.com.