It's snowing in Montreal. And that wouldn't normally be of note except that the Sounders are scheduled to play there at 1 p.m. Saturday, and it might be snowing enough to affect Olympic Stadium's ability to host the game. (Ticket sales have topped 25,000.)
Here's some of a Wednesday afternoon phone conversation I had with Impact executive vice president Richard Legendre, who opened the conversation by saying he was speaking "directly from Montreal in the snow."
On why the game was scheduled for Olympic Stadium: When we first joined the MLS in 2012 we knew with the league starting in early March we knew that here it’s not possible to play at Stade Saputo – which is our main stadium, 20,000 seats and it’s natural grass -- that we have and we’re really happy with the stadium. Except if I was to send you a photograph, the Saputo Stadium right now is totally white. It’s a little late this year, I must say. That’s why we’re joking, although we don’t find it funny. The winter is getting a little bit longer. The month of March here in Montreal, we can have a couple of snow storms and it’s very difficult – quite impossible, quite frankly – to play outdoors in Stade Saputo. So we knew from the very beginning that we would have to play two or three games under the roof at the Olympic Stadium."
"We’re quite happy with the Olympic Stadium. It is a big facility with a capacity of 55,000. Of course we – a little bit like Seattle – we don’t open up the higher level, and in the lower bowl we have a capacity of 34,000. Right now our number of tickets sold is a little bit beyond 25,000. And we’ve had good success at the Olympic Staidum."
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"Now the little glitch at the Olympic Stadium … is the fact that the roof is getting older. The Olympic Stadium between 1999 and 2009 was not used during the winter months because of difficulties with the roof. Actually, we were the ones to use it again in February 2009, because we were playing in the quarterfinal of the Champions League, on Feb. 25, 2009. We had 55,000 people coming to that event. And actually we didn’t have a Plan B. So they kind of re-opened the roof situation vis-a-vis the Olympic Stadium a little bit because of us, and since then they’ve made the Olympic Stadium available during the winter months unless there is snow accumulation on the roof. So that’s why there’s that little question mark every time we play at the Olympic Stadium. But quite frankly we’re very confident for Saturday because again, we’ve announced today that they’ve changed the protocol today and it’s more favorable, so we went from zero tolerance of snow to a few centimeters. But a few centimeters is enough because they make the snow melt, so in the end we’re quite confident even though there is a forecast of 5 centimeters for Saturday that we still will be fine. Now, in the protocol, the final confirmation is being given to us 24 hours before: so Friday at 4 p.m. (Eastern time), so that’s why we informed our friends of the Sounders we’re confident. We’ve been under that scenario for the last three years, and we’ve never had a problem. But 24 hours (before first kick), that’s when it’s confirmed 100 percent."