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DC United’s Levien talks Rooney, Hamid, bag issues at Audi Field

A sign outside Audi Field during a D.C. United Game on Saturday, July 28, 2018, lists the types of bag allowed and prohibited inside the stadium. (WTOP/Mike McMearty)

WASHINGTON — It’s been less than four weeks since D.C. United opened Audi Field, its new Buzzard Point stadium, but the team has already made significant changes both on and off the field.

D.C. United managing general partner Jason Levien appeared on WTOP Thursday morning to discuss the new players and regulations and what the team has done to remedy some of its early issues.

The new clear bag policy led to long lines and confused fans stuck outside the field at the July 28 game, leading to some fans missing part or all of the game. While the team offered free tickets to the fans affected, it is putting more permanent protocol in place to avoid future issues, including offering free 10″ x 10″ bags to those who don’t have them.

“Yes, that was an issue at our last match, and we’re working through some of the kinks of being in our newfound home at Audi Field,” Levin told WTOP Thursday. “We’re offering free clear bags to folks as they enter the building. We publicized the policy quite a bit more. We’re going to have our representatives outside the gates to try to help folks.”

D.C. United also let a months-long disagreement between the team and its supporters groups fester into an opening day protest, but that, too, is on its way to being resolved. Following the departure of Tom Hunt and the hire of veteran soccer executive Chris Hull, both La Barra Brava and District Ultras will be officially represented at the new stadium for the first time Sunday.

On the field, D.C. United got off to a rough start, but has made several recent high-profile additions, including legendary English striker Wayne Rooney and the return of homegrown goalkeeper Bill Hamid.

“It’s a lot more beautiful to watch the game with Wayne on the field. I think every one of our fans can recognize that,” said Levien. “Around the organization, he’s made a massive impact.”

Levien said Hamid would be flying in Thursday, and while he deferred to head coach Ben Olsen as to whether the keeper would be available to play as soon as this weekend, he made it clear how important it was having Hamid back in the fold.

“We couldn’t be happier. It’s really a coup for us,” said Levien. “So many people have stopped me on the street, even on my way to Audi Field this morning, talking about the excitement about having Bill back.”

D.C. United enter Sunday’s home game against Orlando City SC in last place in the Eastern Conference, five points back of three teams and 11 points out of a playoff spot, but with three-to-five games in hand over the rest of the conference.


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