PHOENIX — Phoenix Rising FC is again preparing to welcome back around 1,000 fans to Casino Arizona Field on Saturday for a match against San Diego. The team is the first professional sports organization in the state to allow fans to attend games in person.
“We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, we want to just continue to monitor things,” team manager Bobby Dulle told ABC15. “Our fans did a really good job last week and they understand that we’re all accountable here.”
Outside of providing a reminder or two for fans to keep masks on at all times, he said there were "no issues" during their Sept. 11 match, which was the first time fans were allowed back.
Dulle said the team’s health and safety protocols were developed with input from doctors, researchers, lawyers, and other teams in the United Soccer League. Among many new procedures in place, Dulle said the team is limiting fan attendance to less than 15% of capacity. Fans are given a designated entrance gate and time, seats are assigned and spaced out to allow for social distancing, masks are required at all times (except for eating and drinking), and food and drink vendors have been scaled back.
“Health and safety are at the forefront of every decision,” he said, adding the organization is willing to scale back their plans if COVID-19 cases or hospitalizations begin trending in the wrong direction.
Season ticket holders and others who purchased tickets in advance are being given the option for a refund or credit to a game next season if they are not yet comfortable attending in person. Dulle held a Zoom session before the first game to allow fans to ask questions and receive clarification on the new policies and procedures.
“Hopefully things can go the right way and we can potentially get a few more fans in here,” he said, adding the energy and support fans provide to the players is irreplaceable.