El Paso, TX — There won’t ever be a spring like this one at Southwest University Park. Since the calendars were flipped to read 2014, there have been milestone moments at the construction site on a regular basis. Downtown watched as the bridge was set in place on the west side of the ballpark. The first purchasers of season tickets were onsite for the installation of the ballpark seats. Little Leaguers flipped the lights on and Ovations’ concessions menus were tasted. The ballpark HD videoboard shines brightly facing the stands. The grass is thriving on the field and “Chico” the Chihuahuas mascot has been let loose on the town. With less than two weeks left until Opening Night at Southwest University Park, the El Paso Chihuahuas want to make certain that fans are ready for game days.
“Coming downtown is an event in itself. When you bring thousands of people together, logistics, traffic and parking are critical. We’ve got almost 600 people on the Chihuahuas and Ovations staff to make game days successful,” said Alan Ledford, President of MountainStar Sports Group. “The experience that comes with attending a Triple-A game begins when a fan leaves home. We are counting on our fans to plan ahead so that their experience at Southwest University Park is pleasant and memorable.”
In December, Walter P. Moore & Associates presented their Traffic Operation Plan to the City of El Paso. The El Paso Chihuahuas have been fully dedicated to addressing traffic operation issues and are engaged on a task force whose very job it is to determine the most efficient way to move people in and out of Downtown venues, such as the ballpark. The Guest Services team at the El Paso Chihuahuas, along with representatives from the City of El Paso’s Police and Fire Departments, the El Paso Department of Transportation (EPDOT), the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), SMG, Sun Metro, and the Downtown Management District (DMD), has played an active role in the development of traffic operation plans for game days, as well as days when baseball will be played while other events are taking place Downtown. The Chihuahuas Guest Services team consists of approximately 150 staff members. They’ll partner with the above mentioned agencies to make the ballgame-going experience as seamless as possible.
“We didn’t strategize this on our own and it is reassuring that we won’t be standing alone on game day,” said Brad Taylor, General Manager of the El Paso Chihuahuas. “Our peers at the City’s Convention and Performing Arts Center and the folks at Destination El Paso are also in the entertainment business. They know just as well as we do that logistics are critical to the success of events.”
“We are excited to welcome the Chihuahuas to the neighborhood. This is a first-class ballpark, team, and staff. We are looking forward to a great season with lots of El Pasoans coming downtown,” said Destination El Paso’s General Manager, Bryan Crowe.
The Downtown Management District is also a game day stakeholder. It’s a benefit to retailers and restaurateurs to have multiple events running concurrently. Ideally, Chihuahuas fans will come early and stay late to take in all that Downtown El Paso has to offer. On Opening Night, the gates at Southwest University Park will open at 5:00p.m. On subsequent game days, the gates will open one hour before game time.
“The DMD is chiefly invested in Downtown growth in all of its forms and embrace the kaleidoscope of both businesses and culture we are home to, making the El Paso Chihuahuas a fine addition,” said Rudy Vasquez of the Downtown Management District. “We will continue to work closely with both City and private entities in making the entire experience not only a sports highlight but an all-inclusive Downtown highlight for everyone.”
The City’s Traffic Management Center is responsible for timing signals for Downtown ingress and egress. In advance of Chihuahuas games, they will play a significant role managing the various event scenarios and how traffic can and should flow as patrons work their way Downtown and how those same people get back home smoothly. They, along with El Paso Police and Fire Departments, will handle intersection control and public safety. EPDOT and TXDOT will manage dynamic messaging on streets and Interstate 10. Using social media the Chihuahuas marketing officials will be able to push messaging from the Command Center to fans on their way to and from Downtown.
The Walter P. Moore Study reports that the Downtown parking supply is significant, with over 6,200 public parking spaces within a six-block radius of Southwest University Park. The El Paso Chihuahuas are pleased to release a Parking & Access Map that represents the parking opportunities at meters, surface lots, and in parking garages. The map includes directional traffic flow and ADA-accessible entrances and drop-off zones. It should be noted that there are close to 50 disabled parking spots in the garages at the Union Plaza Parking Terminal (UPPT) and the Convention Center. In addition, both an ingress and egress map are available, with preferred access routes to and from the ballpark, for fans from all over El Paso. To view the Parking & Access Map as well as the maps for suggested routes to and from Downtown, please click here. Fans are encouraged to check for updates to directions, routes, and parking on a regular basis.
Worth highlighting is the tremendous partnership the El Paso Chihuahuas have with Sun Metro, which is offering round-trip Park+Ride Service for $3 (ages 5 and under are free) from five locations around town to Southwest University Park. On April 28th (Opening Night), the Park+Ride Service will begin at 5:30p.m. Return trips will start at the beginning of the 7th inning, run again at the end of the 9th inning, and continue for 30 minutes after the conclusion of the game. Sun Metro will provide Park+Ride Service to the ballpark for the first seven home games, with departures starting about an hour and a half before game time. For the balance of the 2014 season, Park+Ride Service to Downtown will be provided for all Friday, Saturday and Sunday games.
“We have examined every facet of getting people Downtown and to the game in time to take in the entire experience,” added Ledford. “As we’ve said all along, there is something for everyone and that applies to transportation and parking as well.”
“From the beginning, we’ve told our fans that Triple-A baseball is so much more than the game itself. We need the help of the fans in order to make every game day, not just Opening Night, efficient and fun,” said Taylor. “Our proactive approach doesn’t end in two weeks, as we will continue to work with the City and other agencies to manage logistics and fine tune game day access all season long.”
Opening Night is scheduled for Monday, April 28th, which kicks off an eight (8) game homestand beginning with a 4-game series versus the Fresno Grizzlies (S.F. Giants). The Opening Night game is sold out, but tickets are available for the remainder of the first homestand. Fans can purchase their tickets online at EPChihuahuas.com or in person at the Abraham Chavez Theatre located at 1 Civic Center Plaza Downtown. Lawn seating is $5 and reserved seats start at $8 with advance purchase and $10 on the day of the game.