State reopening on July 1 is good news for sports franchises ”Albuquerque Journal

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Fans of a record-breaking crowd listed at 16,975 populate the berm beyond the right-field fence during a 2018 game at Isotopes Park, where Albuquerque beat El Paso 4-1, reopening the state in July removes restrictions and will allow isotopes to sell generously at their big-ticket matches in July. (Roberto E. Rosales / Journal)

You could almost hear the roar of the crowds at Isotopes Park on Friday, despite the Albuquerque Triple-A franchise being mired in a historic 16-day road trip between home games.

News from Santa Fe has confirmed the state’s vaccination rate has reached the 60% target, meaning the state will reopen on July 1 – lifting all corporate-related COVID-19 restrictions, including things like reducing stadium capacity limits for sporting events around New Mexico.

Okay, Health Department data on Friday actually showed that only 59.4% of eligible New Mexicans had ever received their vaccines, but no one in the state seemed to care about the generous rounding for. help the state to return to normal.

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For sports in the state that depend on fans in the stands to survive, Friday was truly a day of celebration knowing that revenue from tickets and concessions can once again be counted.

“Almost 12 months ago to the day, we announced the cancellation of the 2020 season,” Isotopes vice president and general manager John Traub told the Journal in a text exchange on Friday. “And now we’re getting ready to reopen our capacity to 100% on our biggest weekend of the season. July 3 (Mariachis night) and July 4 (often the team’s busiest game with one of the state’s biggest fireworks) are going to be two amazing homecoming games for anybody. the community !

The news was also welcome for young New Mexico United, the third-year franchise that led the United Soccer League Championship division in average home attendance in its debut season in 2019, had to play its entire second season out of the game. State and has completed a quarter of its home schedule this season with limited capacity restrictions in place at Isotopes Park, which the team sublets to the Albuquerque Isotopes.

“This is exciting news,” said NMU spokesman David Carl. “You remember some of those games in 2019. These types of crowds are hard to find anywhere in the country, so coming back to them is exciting.”

Carl said that since tickets are already on sale in a limited capacity format for the team’s home games on July 9 and 12, they will still function as if the capacity is 75%. The first game at 100% capacity for United will take place on July 24 against rivals El Paso Locomotive FC.

Traub said the Isotopes will begin making all seats available for purchase immediately on July 1, when the team begins a six-game homestand with the El Paso Chihuahuas.

So far, tickets for the Isotopes and United games have been sold in a pod system to space fans out in a way that accommodates limited capacity and still allows for social distancing. Allowing only 5,000 fans in a stadium but lumping them all into one section, after all, would defeat the goal.

Across the street at the University of New Mexico, Friday’s news means such formatting of pods for ticket sales won’t be necessary.

For Lobo’s football, season tickets had been sold as if there would be no capacity restrictions, sporting director Eddie Nuñez said, but on the understanding that some movement could take place if the limits of limited capacity forced fans to disperse.

While relying on sold-out sales for Lobo football is a bit ambitious, UNM is still counting on increased sales for this fall as popular head coach Danny Gonzales and defensive coordinator Rocky Long still make their mark. returning to the varsity stadium after the team played all of State 2020.

As for Lobo basketball and his return to the Pit under new coach Richard Pitino, UNM had taken down payments on membership purchases, but delayed the sale of specific seats until capacity restrictions are known.

Nuñez said on Friday that these will go on sale on July 12.

For high school sports, the 2020-21 school year sports will all end next week, so attendance issues for that year are not affected. Friday’s news, however, ensures that the 2021-22 sports calendar will have no state-imposed restrictions on fan participation.

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