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Mayor: Don’t expect to see Isotopes or NM United before July

One of Albuquerque’s favorite summer pastimes is “off the table” for the next couple of months – and maybe even longer – Mayor Tim Keller said Friday.

The Albuquerque Isotopes, a Triple-A baseball team that plays at a city-owned park, cannot host games in May or June due to a ban on mass gatherings, the mayor said.

The same holds true for New Mexico United, the professional soccer team that also calls the city stadium home, he said.

Despite plans to reopen New Mexico’s economy from its COVID-19 shutdown, Keller said the need to curb large groups will preclude stadium-filling sporting events for months to come, just as it has since mid-March.

Mayor Tim Keller says guidelines against mass gatherings will prevent fans from seeing the Albuquerque Isotopes or Mexico United in the city-owned Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal file)

The Isotopes were slated to play their first home game April 14, but announced in March the opener would be delayed for an “undetermined amount of time.”

New Mexico United’s season was temporarily suspended before it could play its first home game in March. Its league (the United Soccer League) has no specific return date, saying in a news release this week it “will await further guidance and clarity from local, state and national health authorities” before putting anything on the calendar.

Keller said it is possible that sporting events could pick up later this summer, but the various professional leagues are still making their own decisions.

“The leagues might be canceled entirely,” he said. “If not, we’ll figure out a way to (operate) under our own health guidelines in some form or another.”

United owner Peter Trevisani said discussions are ongoing within the USL about how teams can eventually resume play, including competing without fans.

He suggested that games could be played outside of normal home stadiums in geographic locations that limit each team’s need to travel far or stay in hotels – for example, squaring off against Colorado Springs somewhere in northern New Mexico.

“When you really start to unanchor from what we think is more normal, a lot more options present themselves,” he said.

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