CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Charlotte FC fans no longer have to wait outside the gates when a lightning delay goes into effect if they’re not already inside the stadium.
The club says they got feedback from fans.
Before Saturday, the team closed the gates, not letting other fans in once the lightning delay went into effect.
The team says they did that because their security screenings were out in the open, meaning workers had to leave their posts to seek shelter during lightning delays.
But now, they’ve moved security stations to a covered area for fans to be screened and come inside.
“It’s a party every weekend that we play at home,” said Oz Hernandez, a Charlotte FC fan.
It took a long time to get the party started this weekend, and it didn’t last long.
“We had to be patient; it’s not something that we were really happy about,” said Hernandez of the continuous lightning delays.
Those delays caused an almost 5-hour wait for fans.
Fans first had to shelter in place for more than three hours because of lightning delays before the game started. Then, the teams played for about 16 minutes, and another lightning delay happened, which led to the postponement of the match.
While some people were playing games inside the stadium to pass the time, others waited outside.
“At that point, we’re like we’ll just wait it out in the car,” said Hernandez.
Time passed, and the lightning strikes kept coming; Hernandez waited for the storm to clear and headed from his car for shelter inside the stadium.
“We were getting hungry; we wanted something to drink, so we decided to kind of give it a shot,” he said.
This time he got in. But for the Nashville game three weeks ago, he was stuck outside with nowhere to shelter in place during the lightning storm.
“We had to wait outside the stadium maybe 45 minutes, an hour,” he continued. “It was kinda hot as well.”
Charlotte FC tells Queen City News it changed its policy, which started with this past Saturday’s match, to keep the gates open and allow fans to seek shelter inside the stadium if that’s their closest shelter.
“During the Chelsea game, there was definitely a lot of lightning, thunder outside of the stadium; thankfully, we were already in,” said Hernandez. “If you’re outside and you see that going around, you definitely don’t feel safe, so I’m glad the team made the decision to allow fans inside the stadium to use it as a shelter as well.”
Major League Soccer, not Charlotte FC, made the call to postpone, and the league also decides when that call is made.
That decision happened at 11:45 Saturday night, almost five hours after the scheduled kickoff.