ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s a big night for New Mexico United, who played the first home game in more than a year on Saturday. You could hear and feel the excitement in Isotopes Park, AKA ‘The Lab.’
“We’re ready to be loud, rowdy, and proud,” said Lindsey Allen, Vice President of the team’s support organization, ‘The Curse.’ “Beyond excited. I don’t know, I think I’ve cried like three times just over the emotion of having a match.”
“Very emotional. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed a few tears walking back into the stadium,” said Carlos, a New Mexico United fan who attended Saturday’s game. This marked the team’s first home game in what the team said is 574 days. “That’s like a decade in soccer,” said Sal, a New Mexico United fan who attended Saturday’s game.
“574 days of just pent-up energy and pent-up excitement to just walk in the stadium, smell the smoke bombs, to hear everybody cheering for the team,” Kevin McCann, a New Mexico United fan who attended Saturday’s game.
Fans tailgated before the game where COVID-19 vaccines were being offered. More than 150 people got vaccinated at the tailgate and received a pair of free game tickets in return.
The home game did look different than it did last time fans were there more than a year ago, before the pandemic. The stadium was at 75% capacity, and Saturday night’s game almost sold out. Despite the governor’s amended mandate, guests were still required to wear masks at the game when not eating or drinking. People are also sitting in pods no more than six to allow for social distancing. The new rules didn’t take from the old, home-game feel.
“I don’t know if the restrictions are really going to stop what New Mexico fans and The Curse are about. We’re still going to be loud. We’re still going to be supportive. A little bit of distance between us never hurt anybody,” McCann said.
“Being back here at The Lab, with this front row, this padding, being able to smell the dirt, it feels so good to be back home,” Carlos said.
United’s next home game is on Saturday, May 29.