EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso Locomotive FC’s return to the pitch is imminent. The USL Championship releasing 2020 return to play openers on Thursday, which has El Paso hosting Rio Grande Valley FC on Saturday, July 11th. Kickoff at Southwest University Park is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the return to play opener.
“We are very excited to be back in action on July 11 and playing at home in El Paso makes it even more special,” said head coach Mark Lowry. “We have always taken great pride in representing the Borderplex community and playing for each and every El Pasoan during what has been a difficult year for everyone makes this an emotional moment. We are the only live professional sport in El Paso at the moment, and we want to put on a show for everyone watching at Southwest University Park or at home. I do ask that everyone continues to follow CDC guidelines, wear your mask and maintain the required distancing inside and outside of the stadium so we can put a show on for you all in a safe and friendly environment.”
Locomotive FC general manager Andrew Forrest tells KTSM 9 Sports that the team is still hopeful to have fans in the stands around 20-25% capacity. With a seating capacity of approximately 7,500 at Southwest University Park, the goal would be to get roughly 2,000 fans in attendance at home games.
“Right now, we continue to have that exemption for sports gatherings. That could change and we are prepared for any scenario,” said Forrest. “We are moving forward like we are going to have that exemption on Saturday, July 11. We are prepared for that, but we also know what the climate is. We see the [COVID-19] numbers, we see the spikes, we see the surging — we understand what reality is at this point.”
Season ticket holders will receive first priority in attending games. Facemasks will be mandatory at all times except while consuming food and beverage. Fans can sign up for the waiting list here. Fans can also purchase a ‘Cutout Conductor’ to represent themselves in the stands here.
El Paso’s first three matches will all be at home. The squad is competing in ‘Group C’ and will play 12 games against the likes of New Mexico United, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, and Real Monarchs SLC. Their three matches outside of group play will be against Rio Grande Valley FC in the opener, at Phoenix Rising FC on August 1, and another home match against a Copa Tejas rival in San Antonio FC on September 12. The regular season finale will come on October 4 at Real Monarchs SLC.
Locomotive FC and Rio Grande Valley faced off twice in 2019, seeing the two sides play to a 2-2 draw at Southwest University Park and a 1-0 loss on the road. The opening weekend matchup marks the first game for Locomotive since its scoreless season opener in early March. It will be the first match at Southwest University Park since a thrilling 3-0 win over Sacramento Republic FC in the 2019 USL Championship Western Conference Semifinals.