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Title: United Still in Dark Over Power Outage
By Athelia Knight Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 12, 2000; Page D11
The floodlight malfunction at RFK Stadium that forced the cancellation of the second half of D.C. United's match against the Kansas City Wizards Saturday night has the head of the D.C. Sports Commission concerned about the time needed to resolve the problem and has D.C. United complaining about $300,000 in lost revenue.
A broken transformer kept four of the eight light banks dark Saturday. The first half was played in adequate sunlight, but after waiting through the 15-minute halftime and another 63 minutes during which technicians were unable to solve the problem, referee Marcel Yonan declared the match a tie.
"When something like this happens, [we need] to be able to track and find the problem quickly," said John Richardson, head of the D.C. Sports Commission. Richardson said no similar incident had occurred in the history of the stadium. "I don't think D.C. United blames us," he said.
However yesterday, United President-General Manager Kevin Payne said: "While it's not a question of blaming anybody, nobody intended it to happen, but it is their responsibility."
Payne said D.C. United will lose about $300,000 in revenue if the game is not replayed because each of the 21,035 fans is entitled to a free ticket to a future regular season game. Payne plans to talk to stadium officials about that potential revenue loss.
Richardson, who did not attend the game but received a report about what happened, said the malfunctioning transformer was located 10 to 15 minutes after the match was declared over. About 10:30 p.m., the lights were working properly. But, by then, the teams and the second-largest crowd of the season were on their way home.
United signed a one-year lease just before the season with the sports commission, which oversees stadium operations on behalf of the District.
What caused the transformer to malfunction remains under investigation. "We're still trying to figure it out," Richardson said, adding that the best theory is that the transformer broke after a lightning strike some time ago.
Although the match was declared a scoreless tie, Payne said he disagrees with that decision and will appeal to Major League Soccer. MLS executive vice president John Ertmann, who attended the game, said Saturday that league rules state a tied match that cannot resume after halftime is official and the result and all statistics count. The rules of FIFA, soccer's world governing body, require 65 minutes to be played before a game is official.
"I never recall a discussion about this [rule change] and I'm sure I would have opposed it," said Payne, who serves on the league's management and competition committees. He said league policy in the past has followed FIFA's rules.
-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), June 12, 2000