The Atlanta Silverbacks announced that their first match of the 2017 NPSL Playoffs will kickoff at 3:30pm on Tuesday July 11 at Silverbacks Park. The Silverbacks will host Asheville City SC after earning a home playoff match on Saturday with their win over the Georgia Revolution.
The announcement of a kickoff at the hottest part of the day in Atlanta, Georgia came as a surprise to some fans. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the forecast for tomorrows match is sunny and 87 degrees, 71% humidity, and a 50% chance of rain. In response, the club put out an official statement:
Due to the unavailability of Silverbacks Park on Tuesday evening and a lack of available alternatives, our first round playoff match with ACSC [Asheville] will be played at 3:30 on Tuesday.
As a club that is excited about our team and thankful for our supporters, it disappoints us to have to play this early in the day. However, we have no control over the park’s schedule and unfortunately, this was the only way to allow our players to enjoy the home field advantage that they earned during the regular season.
We hope as many supporters as possible can come and cheer on the team. Rest assured, we plan to work diligently in the offseason to ensure that this is not an issue in the future.
Thank you for your continued support of the Atlanta Silverbacks. #WeAreAtlanta
Some supporters of the club expressed their disappointment with the announcement on Twitter.
THIS IS A DISGRACE.— NonLeagueAmerica (@NonLeagueUSA) July 9, 2017
This is killing us— s.g._AU101 (@sggAU101) July 9, 2017
Other groups were more stoic:
1st playoff game is 3:30 this Tuesday. We all know who to blame for this. We'll try to be there. https://t.co/OxmPKJWoUO— Westside 109 (@ATLWestside109) July 9, 2017
Atlanta Silverbacks Park is owned an operated by Boris Jerkunica, who previously owned the NASL Silverbacks. In addition to the NPSL team, the field also hosts a number of adult recreational soccer leagues in the evenings. Fans who stay late after Silverbacks games will see the rec-league players warming up at the Park. These rec-leagues, which generate a steady stream of revenue for Jerkunica, seem to take precedence over NPSL matches.
The Silverbacks looked into changing venues for a U.S. Open Cup match earlier this season, but found that the organization might lose hosting privileges in the future if they changed. The Backs ran into a similar problem last postseason and ended up playing a match at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville.
The unfavorable game-time on a Tuesday afternoon will surely result in lower attendance and a weaker atmosphere for the crucial playoff match. The Silverbacks are looking for their first win against expansion-side Asheville City SC, who defeated and drew the Backs earlier this season.
For better or for worse, the Silverbacks will kickoff against Asheville City SC tomorrow at 3:30pm. Bring sunscreen.