EDINBURG — The RGV FC Toros announced Friday that the organization has decided to play its USL Championship home re-opener against San Antonio FC at 8 p.m. on July 17 at H-E-B Park in Edinburg without fans in attendance, citing concerns related to the continued spread of COVID-19 regionally.
“The club’s decision to close its first game to fans was not taken lightly,” the organization said in a written statement. “Though we are confident in the measures taken by the club and the facility, H-E-B Park, to keep players, staff, employees, and fans safe, we are connected to our community and believe our decision is in line with the pulse of the Rio Grande Valley.”
The fanless match against San Antonio FC will be the Toros’ second home game of the season, after the club fell 5-1 to LA Galaxy II in its season opener on March 8 and the USL elected to suspend regular season play four days later.
RGV FC will play its first game of the 2020 USL regular season restart against Cope Tejas rival El Paso Locomotive FC at 8:30 p.m. tonight at Southwest University Park in El Paso. El Paso’s KFOX14 reported Monday that El Paso Locomotive FC reversed course on its original decision to play the Toros in front of fans, saying instead fans can access a live stream of the contest on ESPN+.
“In an abundance of caution for the protection of our fans, our players, and our staff, we feel it’s most pertinent and prudent to play this game without fans,” said Andrew Forrest, El Paso Locomotive FC’s general manager of business operations, to KFOX14 in El Paso.
Rio Grande Valley FC, however, also stated that the organization has and continues to work on contingency plans that would potentially bring fans back to H-E-B Park before the end of the 2020 USL Championship regular season, which culminates in October.
The Toros have mandated that all club employees wear personal protective equipment (i.e. face coverings and gloves) and submit to start-of-shift wellness checks. Rio Grande Valley FC also revealed that the organization has adopted enhanced cleaning and disinfectant policies, and additionally affirmed that it is actively working on seating arrangements that follow social distancing protocols as well as all CDC, federal, state and local health guidelines.
When and if RGV FC opens back up H-E-B Park this season, it will limit stadium capacity to a 25% maximum. Under the current guidelines imposed by Gov. Greg Abbott, outdoor stadiums may still reopen at 50% capacity.
“We want fans to know that we have taken this time to improve in every sense of the word—on the pitch, and off,” RGV FC President Ron Patel said in a written statement. “Our new campaign for the restart of this season is called ‘The Comeback’ and it will show how everyone—from players, to coaches, to housekeeping, concessions…EVERYONE needed to bring the magic of a Toros Game—has been preparing for our return. When we DO welcome fans back to H-E-B Park, it will be because we are confident we can deliver what they deserve, which is top-quality soccer action in a fun, safe, and secure environment.”
Fans wishing to tune in to the Toros’ home re-opener against San Antonio FC can watch live locally on Somos El Valle 5.2 and nationally via ESPN+ with kickoff set for 8 p.m. July 17.