EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – UTEP’s upcoming football game versus UAB has been moved up one day to Friday, Nov. 20, and will be played at Grande Stadium in Midland, Texas.
The game is set to kick off at 10 a.m. MT/11 a.m. CT in Midland and will be played with no fans in attendance.
The decision to move the game to Midland was made as cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations due to the virus continue to rise sharply in El Paso.
Midland was chosen in part because of its proximity to El Paso; the Miners will bus to the Permian Basin. It’s also easily accessible for UAB by plane and has the necessary hotel and stadium infrastructure. It’s not ideal, but given the current public health emergency and stay-at-home order in El Paso, UTEP felt it was the right choice.
“Just look at the virus numbers, they continue to proliferate in our community,” UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter said. “When we were talking to North Texas we didn’t have a shelter-in-place order. There’s a lot of different things that have shown that the virus and the spread have escalated. We want to do anything in our power to help mitigate that to the best of our ability.”
Two weeks ago, North Texas elected not to come to El Paso to play the Miners due to the current COVID-19 crisis in the Sun City. That game has been rescheduled for Dec. 12, and a game with Southern Miss has been rescheduled for Dec. 4. Both games are currently slated to be played at the Sun Bowl, but Senter indicated that they could potentially be moved as well.
Senter also said that the FIU game that was canceled last week also stood a chance of being played in Midland, before the Panthers canceled it.
The news of the change of venues for the Miners’ next home game comes after UTEP elected not to practice on Tuesday, in advance of Saturday’s road trip to San Antonio to play UTSA. Miner officials told KTSM that the team will be back on the practice field on Wednesday.
The contest against UAB will be streamed live on ESPN+. Fans can also tune in to the radio broadcast on ESPN 600 El Paso to hear Jon Teicher (PxP) and Mike Perez (analysis) on the call.
“We feel hosting UAB in Midland will give us the best opportunity to get on the field and compete,” head coach Dana Dimel said. “While we are disappointed that we will not be playing in front of our home crowd, we are looking forward to the opportunity to play the game at Grande Stadium.”
Only coaches, student-athletes, support staff, officials, medical personnel and media with a working function will be permitted into Grande Stadium.
Three of UTEP’s last four games have been either canceled or postponed due to COVID-19. Home games with Southern Miss and FIU were not played due to excess COVID cases at those universities, and the Miners’ home game against North Texas was postponed after UNT expressed concerns with coming to El Paso with the rise in cases and hospitalizations.
With basketball season just 15 days away, Senter said it was also possible their games could be played outside of El Paso as well.
“We’re going to take it on a game-by-game basis. There’s not nearly as many moving parts for a basketball team,” Senter said.