It's officially official. Columbus Crew SC announced that the first leg of the Eastern Conference Final on Sunday is sold out. They sold out all the existing seating, they sold out the added seating on the stage, and they sold every last standing room only ticket. It will be the biggest playoff crowd in team history. It's going to be huge.
It's also the first game of new set of security procedures. Given recent events, Major League Soccer has implemented heightened security procedures. This includes the use of metal detectors for the first time for a Crew SC match. Unfamiliar policy for staff, new fans attending, and a giant crowd is a recipe for lines.
Not many MLS matches have featured metal detectors. Century Link Field and the Seattle Sounders rolled out detector wands and struggled with the change initially. Lines were long and people missed part of the game. Stubhub Center has had metal detectors in place for several years and is now fully entrenched as part of the process to enter the stadium with minimal impact on stadium lines.
Local stadium operations staff have been augmenting policies in recent years. Metal detectors have been used at Columbus Blue Jacket games for a couple years now and Ohio State will be mandating plastic bags for entry into Ohio Stadium for this Saturday's game against Michigan State. MLS is taking steps they feel are needed to ensure the balance between safety and convenience.
It can be frustrating to be stuck in a long line waiting to see Crew SC unleash havoc, but try to take it in some good cheer. Save that anger for the first bad call. Arrive early and don't miss a moment of what may be the best match of the year (so far).
All MAPFRE Stadium policies are located on ColumbusCrewSC.com.