University Officials Announce 18% Capacity at UTEP Football Games
UTEP President Heather Wilson announced updates to the Miner football game day plans for the upcoming season amid the pandemic on Thursday, including limiting stadium attendance to 18 percent capacity.
During a press conference to discuss safety strategies as the first day of classes approaches on Monday, Aug. 27, university personnel met media members Thursday afternoon to discuss "strategies designed to allow UTEP continue to educate its students and drive discovery of public value while protecting public health." Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs John Wiebe and Vice President for Student Affairs Gary Edens joined President Wilson for the virtual press conference.
Miner football came up as a talking point among university leaders.
"Conference USA is continuing with fall athletics. Our athletic department has come up with a plan where the seating capacity is reduced actually far below what the Governor has given us for outdoor venues," Wilson said. "The seats are going to be socially distanced to groups of household patrons. For example... if a family group of four came, they would sit together and be distanced from a family group of three. Family groups would be able to sit together with distance between them. By doing that, we have significantly reduced capacity. of the Sun Bowl."
Along with the reduced capacity of 18 percent patrons, fans will be socially distanced from others at the game by the example above. In addition, mandatory face coverings will be required for all fans and staff members at home games. Tailgating will not be permitted this season.
As the athletic department revealed previously, there will be a clear bag policy and tickets will be electronically scanned at the entrance this year.
At the game itself, there will be various changes to the concourse areas. Restrooms will reduce their capacities and will be supervised by a counter. Vending locations will have Plexiglas barriers installs and will focus on "grab and go" options.
"Face coverings will be mandatory at the Sun Bowl for football games, there's not going to be any tailgating this fall," Wilson continued. "We have a clear bag policy so nobody needs to touch your belongings. Digital ticketing has been implemented."
"Of course, all the athletes on the field are tested multiple times a week. No one is allowed down on that field or even one row of the field without having been tested. And while the details are being finalized, those on the field will be likely tested within the past 24 hours so that everyone is on the level of the players or close to that will be tested."
- President Heather Wilson
UTEP is still awaiting the finalization of the fall schedule. There have been multiple reports of the Miners hosting Stephen F. Austin on Saturday, Sept. 5, as the home opener, but nothing has been made official by the school. Director of Athletics Jim Senter told media members last week that his goal is still to fill a 12-game schedule.
As it stands, the first game is on the road against Texas (Sept. 12) followed by an eight-game Conference USA schedule. Games against Texas Tech (Sept. 5), Nevada (Sept. 12) and NMSU (Sept. 26) were each canceled.