New Mexico United: A wonderful problem for USL

Brand-new USL team New Mexico United is very quickly becoming a very good problem: They are very good on the pitch and amazingly popular off it.

Brand-new USL team New Mexico United has added to a rapidly growing problem in the league: they draw terrific numbers and they’re just too good.

The New Mexico United front office has been forced into enacting immediate measures to try to get fans to their seats by kickoff. They’re drawing sellout crowds of over 12,000 to each match at their initial venue of Albuquerque Isotopes Park, the most in the Western Conference. Management has started opening the doors 90 minutes before kickoff instead of an hour, and they’re open to running the time even further ahead,

That will help the problem, but it won’t solve it. New Mexico United has come on way too strong in their inaugural season for the fans not to show up. They’ve opened undefeated, 3-0-5, good enough for third in the USL Western Conference. The waves of supporters that have already shown up will only grow with that kind of success.

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Also, New Mexico United have been kicking their way through a perfect storm of sports entertainment that no one really realized was waiting there. They’re the first professional soccer team in New Mexico. Fans had been ready to line up for entry since… forever. Then, after the long lines to get in for their first game, they beat visiting Real Monarchs SLC 5-1.

Just suppose New Mexico United had never scheduled another game after that first blowout. Fans would still be lining up at the ticket office. And would have continued talking about what they’d seen and heard.

New Mexico United owner and CEO Peter Trevisani said the long-term solution is a soccer-specific stadium with a greater capacity. He promised the organization had started work on the project and would get it done.

The basic work on what kind of stadium and a site already got started before New Mexico United was planned. Albuquerque City Council published a study on a 10,000-seat stadium downtown for another team, but after the study, the proposed team fell through.

New Mexico United can build on that initial study, but the new, revised plans will obviously have to be higher capacity than that. But that’s not all. Fans at Isotopes Park with bags must get checked at two busy entrances. The crowds are funneling and moving slowly as a result. The new stadium will need to plan carefully for security and to get fans moved through effectively and safely.

Trevisani said their best plan means the soccer-specific stadium will be completed several years from now. But it will be a venue well worth the wait.