EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso Locomotive FC will play with fans in attendance for the first time this season when they host Real Monarchs SLC on Saturday night. The announcement was made by the club on Friday and they will do so in a limited fashion with 800 fans permitted in the stadium, roughly 11% capacity in order to keep 12-feet of social distance.
“We are thrilled to welcome Locomotive fans back to Southwest University Park,” said MountainStar Sports Group President Alan Ledford. “While state and local directives have allowed fans to attend prior matches, we opted to wait until now to open the gates to guests. Our staff has worked diligently and in conjunction with local community and health authorities to create a plan for a safe and healthy environment in which to welcome our fans back. This hint of normalcy is welcome progress during this challenging time.”
The club originally planned to host fans since July, but felt it was in the best interest to keep everyone at home with COVID-19 positives arising at an alarming rate.
“We were prepared operationally to do this for the last four games, it just didn’t all make sense and we think it does now,” said Locomotive FC general manager Andrew Forrest.
Hospitalizations are down in El Paso since the USL Championship restart. Locomotive opened on July 11 at Southwest University Park with 251 people hospitalized with COVID-19. On Tuesday, the city reported 131 hospitalizations. It’s one of the reasons fans are also feeling more comfortable with the idea of attending the game.
“The team told us how they’re going to handle everything. I think that helped alleviate some of the concern people had,” said 8th Notch president Larry Durbin.
For the players and coaches on this club — who have yet to have a single positive case — the fans represent an added boost as they hit the final stretch of group play.
“Those are the reasons you want to play games,” said Locomotive FC goalkeeper Logan Ketterer. “You want to play in front of fans, you want to play in big moments and it changes that when you don’t have fans around.”
“It’s different when the stadium in empty,” said Locomotive FC head coach Mark Lowry. “It really is. It’s not as enjoyable. I know the club is going to put on a really safe environment, the protocols are going to be in place and we know they are going to do a great job with that.”
The policies and procedures that will be implemented to ensure a safe environment for everyone in attendance, including but not limited to:
- Masks are required at all times – no exceptions.
- COVID-19 screening prior to entering the stadium.
- Southwest University Park will be opened for an estimated 800 fans (approximately 11% of capacity).
- 12-foot social distancing.
- Hand sanitizing stations located throughout Southwest University Park as well as new and more extensive in-game sanitation protocols.
To view the full list of safety guidelines, visit eplocomotivefc.com/covid19policies.