EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Not only is UTEP planning on playing football this fall, the athletic department is preparing for fans in the stands.
Director of athletics Jim Senter and head football coach Dana Dimel met with the media via Zoom on Thursday. Despite UTEP suspending fall camp on Sunday after four football players tested positive for COVID-19, the Miners fully plan on playing.
In a mandated state order, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has issued guidance for sporting events. Stadiums, like the Sun Bowl, will be permitted to host fans up to 50% capacity.
“We are planning on having fans in our home opener,” said Senter. “Whether that’s September 5 or sometime later on — but yes we are (allowing fans at football games).”
UTEP was scheduled to host Texas Tech on Saturday, September 5, but the opener was canceled after the Big 12 mandated nonconference games must be played at home for their schools. The Miners have lost three games on their schedule, most recently New Mexico State who postponed their football season to the spring of 2021. As of now, UTEP isn’t scheduled to play a home game until Saturday, October 17 against Southern Miss.
A lot can change in two months, but UTEP plans to adhere to city, state, and Center of Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
“Based on social distancing guidelines required, our stadium capacity is somewhere down between 12,000-14,000 — maybe 15,000 max. That puts us at 21-23% of our stadium capacity,” said Senter.
In addition to social distancing, Senter says face coverings will be mandatory at games this season. UTEP currently has four home games on their 2020 schedule.