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United to get removable netting – at a cost

New Mexico United fans won’t have anything new blocking their view after all.

Following complaints from the professional soccer team and its supporters about planned baseball safety netting at the city-owned Isotopes Park, Albuquerque officials now say the netting will come down prior to soccer matches.

And they say United will foot the bill for the costs associated with the transition – about $10,000 per removal and subsequent rehanging.

United owner Peter Trevisani did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment Saturday.

The netting for the park’s primary tenant, the Albuquerque Isotopes Triple-A baseball team, will now go all the way to the foul poles down the left- and right-field lines. All major league teams either have expanded netting down the lines or have plans to do so, creating an industry standard that the Isotopes are following, said Isotopes general manager John Traub.

But United fans said the netting would hurt the experience of watching soccer at the shared park. In response to those concerns, Albuquerque Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael said in late January that the city would explore options for removable netting.

Mayor Tim Keller on Saturday posted a video on social media announcing a resolution.

“We know soccer fans don’t like looking through a net; it’s just not normal for the sport,” he said in the video. “So both teams have come together, the city has helped out, and we’re going to try to take down the nets before the soccer games and put them back up before the baseball games.”

While United will pay for the netting transition costs, a Keller spokeswoman said the city itself is spending $300,000 in lodgers tax revenue for the netting. That’s up from the $250,000 figure Rael cited last month, but spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn called that an “early estimate.”

“It has changed slightly because of the length of the baselines at the Isotopes Park and the fasteners that will be used to hook the nets onto the cables,” she wrote in response to Journal questions. “This still falls within our budgeted amount of $250,000-$300,000 for the netting.”

The city also pays to convert the playing field between soccer matches and baseball games, something Rael has said runs about $300,000 per year.

The Isotopes, as the primary tenant of the ballpark, secured a naming rights deal last week. Its official name is now Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park.

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