ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – United in frustration. Fans of the New Mexico United are not fans of new rules requiring safety nets to be put up at Isotopes Park.
They say it will block their views and ruin the interactive experience. New Mexico United fans are a dedicated group, to say the least. Many of them live and breathe black and yellow.
“It’s not just a sport, it’s really a family,” said Lindsey Allen, a United fan.
So, when they heard new permanent safety netting was going to be extended at Isotopes Park, fans were not too happy.
“Putting up a wall, putting up a barrier between us and the players is going to change the dynamic for both us and the team,” said Erin Suknot, a United fan.
KRQE News 13 spoke with city officials on Wednesday before all the controversy over the netting started to bubble over. They said major league baseball has now required all of its stadiums to put up netting during games.
However, the owner of NM United says he and the fans want retractable netting, so their games don’t have to be watched through a net.
“I have expressed going back months ago that there was a chance of extending the nets, that there’s a phenomenal opportunity to not only extend them but lower them,” said United owner Peter Trevisani.
United fans were so concerned about the impact the netting would have on their games, they created a petition, which already has close to 500 signatures.
“It’s an exceptional atmosphere and it will definitely change the dynamic,” Allen said.
Trevisani has even offered up funds to help.
“I’ve heard things like, they’re expensive. But New Mexico United would pay for it. It’s really that important,” he said.
It seems as United fans’ voices got louder about the issue, the city started to consider a compromise.
“The city has stepped up on numerous occasions to support the team and we will continue to do so,” said Lawrence Rael, the city’s Chief Operations Officer.
Rael spoke to reporters Friday saying they’re now in talks with the company that installs the nets to see what can be done.
“We will be exploring whether or not there’s an opportunity for us to make the netting somewhat retractable in some fashion, so that we can either raise it, lower it, or take it down during the United games so that the fan experience is a much more enjoyable one,” Rael said.
The netting and installation that the city has already purchased cost $250,000. They were planning to install it by February, but as they regroup they say that date could be pushed back.