UTEP making final preparations to host games at Sun Bowl amidst pandemic

UTEP

EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – For six months, the question has loomed: Would football happen this fall at the Sun Bowl?

In less than 48 hours, UTEP will be one of 76 FBS teams to play this fall and the Miners’ clash with Stephen F. Austin will be one of seven games on Saturday.

“The majority of the work and the planning for our fans, the schedule, the construction — all those things to open the stadium for Saturday are in place and done,” said UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter. “Now, we just have to execute it.”

The stadium will be at 18% capacity, as just under 8,600 fans will filter into a socially-distanced Sun Bowl in hopes of seeing a Miners win. Senter says that right now, they’re expecting that to be the capacity for the duration of the season, but things could change.

“Everything is fluid right now. As far as we know, it will be that number, unless someone tells us we have to reduce stadium capacity or increase stadium capacity,” said Senter.

As of Thursday, a little under half of the allotted tickets are still available. The school has regulations in place for fans. Among them: masks are mandatory; tailgating is prohibited; and at the end of the game, fans will be released by section, similar to an airplane.

“We’re opening up the gates a half hour earlier. Parking lots open 3 hours before the game. What we’re saying is, spread out when you’re coming,” said Senter.

Cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Sun City have dropped in recent weeks, but Saturday’s game will be played as the city of El Paso asks residents to avoid large Labor Day weekend gatherings, and one week before UTEP’s scheduled graduation commencement, which was cancelled earlier this summer. Regardless, UTEP likes the plan that it has put in place.

“We’ve continued to take the temperature of where we’re at with our local city and county mandates from our leadership here,” said Senter. “The whole time we’ve thought, ‘we want to host fans, as long as the rules and regulations allow us to.”

UTEP and SFA will kick off at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Sun Bowl. A full list of rules and regulations can be found below.  

  • Tailgating will be prohibited
  • Parking lots will open three hours prior to kickoff
  • All advance ticket and parking pass sales (prior to game day) will occur through remote means (no in-person transactions) – (915) 747-UTEP, www.utepminers.com/tickets, tickets@utep.edu
  • Fans will be able to purchase tickets in person on game day at either the North or South Sun Bowl box offices beginning three hours prior to kickoff
  • All tickets and parking passes will be delivered digitally
  • Face coverings/masks will be required for all fans
  • Gates will open 30 minutes earlier than usual (two hours prior to kickoff) to assist with fan entry and social distancing
  • A clear bag policy is in place and will be enforced when entering the venue
  • All fans will have assigned seats and are asked to remain in their seats so social distancing can be practiced
  • Restrooms will have capacity limits
  • Sanitization stations will be erected throughout the stadium
  • Concessions meals will be pre-prepped and sealed
  • Restroom and concessions lines will be queued so social distancing can be practiced
  • Water fountains will not be available
  • All stadium staff and game day personnel will be required to fill out and complete an online COVID-19 screening form prior to arriving to campus for game day, and will wear face coverings in venue
  • Frequency of cleaning by custodial staff will be increased, especially in high traffic public areas
  • Fans will be instructed to depart the venue in a “deplaning” fashion

    The full listing of all 2020 UTEP Football Fan Protocols follows.

    UTEP Football COVID-19 Fan Protocols

    (Updated August 26, 2020)
  1. Fans are asked to follow CDC Guideline and UTEP Protocols:
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Wear a face covering.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash immediately after use.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the restroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Pregame
    • Tailgating is prohibited.
    • All parking passes will be digital – season passes and single game passes.
    • All parking lots will open 3 hours prior to kickoff.
    • The traditional fan, spirit squad and marching band welcoming of the team to the stadium (Miner Walk) will not take place.
    • Public, shared youth activities (i.e. inflatables) will not be in operation.
    • Faces coverings/masks are required.
  • Stadium Entry
    • Gates will open 30 minutes earlier than usual – 2 hours prior to kickoff compared to 90 minutes – to assist with fan entry and social distancing.
    • Fans are highly encouraged to enter the stadium through the gate closest to their parking spot or the gate closest to their seats.
    • Upon arriving at a stadium gate, fans will be social distanced and must have a mask on in order to enter. Fans without a mask will not be allowed to enter.
    • A clear bag policy is in place and will be enforced. Visit www.UTEPMiners.com/clearbagpolicy for more information.
    • Fans are encouraged to have their digital ticket already downloaded to their phone and opened on their screen to expedite screening and entry. Digital ticket download process:
      • Step 1 à Go to www.UTEPMiners.com/tickets and select “My Account”
      • Step 2 à Log in using your credentials
      • Step 3 à Select the event you would like to manage
      • Step 4 à “Add” tickets to your phone on Apple Wallet or “Save” tickets to your phone on Google Pay
    • Once inside the stadium, fans must leave their face covering/mask on.
  •  Stadium Attendance
    • Fans are required to wear a mask while in the stadium.
    • Fans are asked to try and remain socially distanced at all times while traversing the stadium.
    • Fans must follow and abide by stadium signage and directions provided by stadium personnel and security staff.
    • All fans will have assigned seats. There will be no general admission seating.
    • All aisle seats are not being sold to provide additional distancing between fans, especially for fan movement/flow purposes.
    • Fans’ seats are socially distanced and fans must remain in their assigned seats during the entirety of the game (outside of utilizing restrooms, purchasing concessions, etc.).
    • Stadium security and ushers will monitor the stands and other fan areas to ensure fans remain in the seats they purchased and abide by all stadium rules and regulations.
    • Restrooms will have capacity limits and will be monitored by stadium personnel. Fans should plan accordingly if they need to use these facilities.
    • Restroom interiors will be adjusted to provide as much social distancing as possible (e.g. certain sinks and toilets will not be in operation).
    • Restroom signage will be installed detailing COVID-19 recommendations (i.e. hand washing procedures) and fans are asked to practice these.
    • Sanitization stations will be erected throughout the stadium. Fans should utilize these liberally.
    • All concession workers will receive safety training, especially education focused on new COVID-19 parameters.
    • The number of concessions stands and points of sale will be reduced compared to previous years to help accommodate social distancing on the concourse.
    • The concessions menu will be modified to provide more products that are pre-prepped and sealed.
    • Clear Plexiglas dividers will be installed at each concession stand.
    • Concessions points of sale and service locations in hospitality areas will have signage and stanchions or markings to promote social distancing.
    • Fans are encouraged to plan ahead and pay for concessions and make other game day purchases with debit/credit cards instead of with cash as cash sales will be discouraged.
    • Signage and stanchions will be erected outside concession stands to promote social distancing.
    • Concessions items will come with individual utensils, napkins and condiments. Satellite condiment stations will not be in use.
    • Water fountains will not be available this year. Fans are allowed to bring one, sealed water bottle into the stadium.
    • Traditional concourse displays and setups have been reduced or removed to accommodate social distancing.
    • The Bookstore location on the East side of the stadium will have reduced occupancy that will be monitored.
    • All stadium staff and game day personnel will be required to fill out and complete an online COVID-19 screening form prior to arriving to campus for game day.
    • All stadium staff and game day personnel will be required to wear face coverings at all times.
    • In addition to wearing a mask, concessions and game day vendors will be required to wear gloves.
    • Frequency of cleaning by custodial staff will be increased, especially in high traffic public areas and items that incur shared use (countertops, railings, doorknobs/door handles, elevator buttons, etc.)
    • COVID-19 fan protocols will be messaged and reiterated via the video board and public address system.
       
  • Stadium Exiting
    • At the conclusion of the game, fans will be instructed to depart in a “deplaning” fashion with those fans closest to the exits leaving first followed by the next closet fans, all the while recognizing and respecting social distancing.
       
  • Other Game Day Protocols
    • Game tickets will only be sold through the following channels prior to game day:
    • On game day, the North and South Sun Bowl box offices will open 3 hours prior to kickoff to provide in-person sales (if tickets remain).
    • The UTEP Marching Band will not perform on the field at any time.
    • The UTEP Spirit Squad will be on the field but socially distanced

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