Sporting Kansas City plans to alter some of its pregame and postgame security protocol Saturday, its first home match since Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard was involved in two altercations with fans at Children’s Mercy Park.
Real Salt Lake, the visiting team Saturday, will exit through the southwest tunnel after the match rather than through the midfield hallway.
The latter location was the site of the incident involving Howard and a Kansas City fan, which led to Howard’s three-game suspension from Major League Soccer. Howard since released a statement criticizing the security at Children’s Mercy Park for allowing the fans to be too close to the players.
Inside the midfield tunnel, the ropes that allow a pregame autograph line will also be pushed further to the side Saturday, allowing more space for the players.
Sporting KC president Jake Reid, who responded with a defense of the stadium’s security, said the adjustments came from the team and were not put into place by the league.
“We’re just eliminating the chance of something happening,” Reid said. “We just looked at everything and felt, let’s trial it. We’ll probably do it today and Wednesday and then reevaluate if we need to tweak it or do anything else.”
Reid said security personnel will be on the field during the postgame handshakes to remind Real Salt Lake players of the new exit.
“We’ll have folks down on the field re-directing them,” Reid said. “But that’s part of this, which is why I don’t know that we’ll keep it that way. Let’s test it and see if it works well. If not, we can revert back.”