UTEP Makes The Right Move Playing Saturday in Empty Sun Bowl
The UTEP football team will be playing their first home game in six weeks when they host North Texas at the Sun Bowl Saturday afternoon. The university announced today that they will play that game in front of no fans. The move is absolutely the right one given the rise in COVID cases in El Paso over the last few weeks.
With El Paso County Judge Richard Samaniego announcing a two-week stay at home order Sunday, UTEP would have sent a mixed message to the community if they allowed a max of 8,500 fans at the Sun Bowl this weekend to watch the Miners play the Mean Green. Around 6,000 fans have attended each of the first two UTEP home games and Saturday's game would have paced the same as far as fan turnout. Even though 6,000 people spread put over a near 50,000 seat outdoor stadium is socially distant, the university would have faced a public outcry if they continued to allow fans to watch the Miners play football.
"Miner fans have been terrific in following best health practices at our football games," UTEP President Dr. Heather Wilson said in the official release. "At the same time, the disease levels around us are high, and, in support of El Paso’s efforts to keep people home, we have decided not to allow fans at Saturday’s game." UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter echoed the sentiments of Dr. Wilson. "While we believe that our department and our fans have followed all of the best practices to ensure a safe experience, the disease is at very high levels around us. We understand El Paso’s desire to encourage people to stay home this weekend."
The fact is, attending a college football game is not an essential activity. If people abide by the stay at home order and practice social distancing, then hopefully the number of positive cases will greatly decrease over the next few weeks. UTEP said in their release that they will decide future games on a week-to-week basis. The Miners are scheduled to host Florida International next Saturday afternoon at the Sun Bowl before traveling to UTSA and then return to the Sun Bowl on November 21st to take on UAB. I would be surprised if fans are allowed to attend the FIU game unless the number of positive cases greatly shrink in size over the next seven days. However, UAB is a better target date to have fans return to the Sun Bowl to watch the Miners.