Southwest University Park, home of the El Paso Chihuahuas and El Paso Locomotive | Photo courtesy Southwest University Park
On Thursday, Southwest University Park representatives officially rolled out the venue’s new features and policies that await both Chihuahuas and Locomotive guests entering the ballpark for their respective 2021 seasons.
The Locomotive home opener is Saturday, May 8 at 7:30 p.m. and the Chihuahuas home opener is slated for Thursday, May 13, at 7:05 p.m.
The new features, some of which took effect during the Locomotive 2020 season, look to improve overall guest satisfaction. Most recently, Southwest University Park announced plans to transition into a cashless and clear bag/no bag facility, a trend seen throughout sports and entertainment venues in the U.S.
In addition to new attractions at Southwest University Park, the Chihuahuas and Locomotive have an exciting array of announcements for the 2021 season.
The Chihuahuas accepted the San Diego Padres’ invitation to continue as their Triple-A affiliate for the next 10 seasons after signing the Major League Baseball Professional Development License. On the field, the Chihuahuas will also see new faces on their coaching staff and team.
El Paso Locomotive debuted a new partnership with the global superpower in soccer sportswear, adidas. Locomotive Youth Soccer Club will also begin play this year as a founding member of the United Soccer League (USL) Academy League.
WHAT’S NEW IN 2021 | SOUTHWEST UNIVERSITY PARK
- PROFESSIONAL SPORTS CATERING – MountainStar Sports Group, the El Paso Chihuahuas, and El Paso Locomotive FC introduce Professional Sports Catering, LLC (PSC) as the new food and beverage provider for Southwest University Park. PSC manages gameday food and beverage including concessions, premium areas, the WestStar Club, and suites. They also manage food and beverage service for all non-gameday events at Southwest University Park. PSC services more than 30 ballparks at every level across the country.
- CASHLESS VENUE – Southwest University Park is now a cashless facility. This will decrease transaction times, create faster moving lines, minimize points of contact for fan and staff safety, and improve overall guest satisfaction.
- CO-BRANDED CHIHUAHUAS AND BUDWEISER CANS – The El Paso Chihuahuas and L&F Distributors, a Founding Corporate Partner and the official beer partner for Southwest University Park, released a NEW co-branded Budweiser Select can featuring the Chihuahuas “EP” logo. This is the second time the Chihuahuas and L&F Distributors teamed up to create a unique Budweiser can showcasing a Chihuahuas primary mark. In 2020, the Chihuahuas became the first Minor League Baseball team to be featured on a Budweiser can.
- CLEAR BAG/NO BAG – A clear bag or no bag policy is in effect for all events at Southwest University Park. This includes Chihuahuas and Locomotive games as well as special events at the ballpark. The new policy allows for a safer environment, helps expedite the entry process into Southwest University Park, and enhances the gameday experience. The clear bag rule is consistent with most sports and entertainment venues around the country including Minor League Baseball ballparks and United Soccer League Championship stadiums.
- EXTENDED NETTING – Continuing a process that began in 2020, protective netting was extended to the Chihuahuas home bullpen at Section 122.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
- MOBILE ORDERING – Appetize is the new point of sale (POS) system at Southwest University Park and provides the capability to implement mobile ordering and payments, self-service kiosks, and a cash-free environment. Appetize has enabled 15 Major League Baseball and 27 Minor League Baseball ballparks to reopen safely with contactless and mobile ordering.
- SELF-SERVE KIOSKS – Self-serve kiosks will be located throughout Southwest University Park. Kiosks will include Pepsi products including Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Aquafina, to name a few. Kiosks will allow fans to serve themselves while avoiding concessions lines.
- MONCHI’S & HUAHUA/PETER PIPER PIZZA
- FOOTLONG CORN DOG – Deep fried foot long corn dog on a stick.
- GRILLED SAUSAGE CART
- FOOTLONG HOT DOG –All beef half pound hot dog, topped with grilled peppers and onions.
- FOOTLONG BRATWURST –Footlong bratwurst sausage, topped with grilled peppers and onions.
- MASON JAR COCKTAILS – Guests can enjoy a variety of cocktails featuring the iconic Mason Jars. The 20-ounce Mason Jars are filled with guests’ favorite cocktails and will also be available in sections 106 and 122, and all premium bar locations.
- JUAREZ DOGS CART
- MAC & CHEESE DOG – A long-time Southwest University Park favorite, this bacon wrapped hot dog is topped with mac & cheese and BBQ sauce.
- OINK, CLUCK, MOO – Bacon wrapped hot dog topped with pulled chicken, coleslaw, BBQ sauce.
- BBQ CART
- PULLED CHICKEN SANDWICH – Pulled chicken drenched in BBQ sauce and topped with pickles.
- SOUTHWEST KETTLE PRETZEL
- KETTLE PRETZEL – Brand new this year are the daily, handmade and baked Southwest Kettle pretzels. Enjoy one of these buttery pretzels with a side of cheese from any of our permanent concession stands.
EL PASO CHIHUAHUAS
- TRIPLE-A AFFILIATE OF SAN DIEGO PADRES – The El Paso Chihuahuas accepted the San Diego Padres’ invitation to continue as their Triple-A affiliate after signing the Major League Baseball Professional Development License. The agreement will extend the affiliation for 10 years – through the 2030 season. The Chihuahuas will play in the Triple-A West division.
- COACHING STAFF CHANGES – Edwin Rodriguez will return to manage the El Paso Chihuahuas in 2021, the Chihuahuas and San Diego Padres announced today. A former Major League player and manager, Rodriguez managed El Paso in 2019 to an 80-60 record, the second-best record in team history. Joining Rodriguez on the staff are pitching coach Eric Junge (pronounced “Young”), hitting coach Doug Banks, fielding coach Oscar Salazar, athletic trainer Drew Garner, assistant athletic trainer Maritza Castro and strength and conditioning coach A.J. Russell.
- CHIHUAHUAS ROSTER HAS NEW LOOK – The El Paso Chihuahuas and San Diego Padres have announced the Opening Day roster for El Paso. It features five of the Padres’ top prospects as rated by MLB.com, including 11 players with Major League experience and eight players returning to El Paso. The top five prospects on the Opening Day roster include:
- LHP MACKENZIE GORE – The #1 ranked pitching prospect in all Major League Baseball by MLB Pipeline and #6 overall ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, #2 by The Athletic, #10 by Baseball America and #13 by ESPN Gore is also the Padres #1 overall prospect in the entire system by MLB Pipeline. Drafted 3rd overall by the Padres in 2017 out of Whiteville H.S. (NC) he spent 2020 at the Padres’ alternate training site and was added to the 40-man postseason player pool but was never added to the active roster during the regular season or postseason.
- C LUIS CAMPUSANO – The #38 ranked prospect in all of Major League Baseball by MLB Pipeline, Campusano is ranked #29 in MLB by ESPN, #36 by Baseball America and #45 by The Athletic. He is the #3 ranked prospect on the Padres Top 30 Prospects list by MLB Pipeline. Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft by the Padres, Campusano made the Padres’ 2021 Opening Day roster, optioned to the alternate training site April 28.
- INF TUCUPITA MARCANO – Marcano is the #6 ranked prospect on the Padres Top 30 Prospects List, and the #1 International Prospect by MLB Pipeline. He ranked by Baseball America as the Padres #9 overall prospect, and #3 ranked infield prospect, behind CJ Abrams (#2 overall) and Ha-Seong Kim (#5 overall). Marcano made the Padres 2021 Opening Day Roster, optioned to the alternate training site on April 16. He was added to the 40-man roster November 2020, and last year was at the Padres’ alternate training site in the 60-man player pool but did not appear on the active roster at any point. He is from Tucupita, Venezuela and signed as an international free agent by the Padres at 17 years old in July 2016.
- RHP MASON THOMPSON – Thompson is the #11 ranked prospect on the Padres’ Top 30 Prospect Rankings List by MLB Pipeline. He did not play in a professional game in 2020 or appear on the Padres’ 60-man player pool during the regular season. Thompson is the 3rd round draft pick by the Padres out of Round Rock H.S. (Round Rock, TX) in 2016. Pitching coach Eric Junge was quoted at Spring Training saying “I think there’s a lot of untapped potential. I think he’s ready to put all that [the injuries] in his rearview mirror.”
- INF IVAN CASTILLO – Born and currently lives in the Dominican Republic, Castillo signed at 16 years old as an International Free Agent with the Cleveland Indians in Dec. 2011 and signed with the Padres as a minor league free agent Sept. 2019. He spent all of 2019 at Double-A Amarillo where he was an All Star and the Texas League Batting Champion with a .313 average. Castillo had the longest hitting streak of any player at Double-A in 2019, hitting safely in 19 straight games from July 2 to July 22. Led all qualifying Amarillo players in doubles (30) and triples (5).
EL PASO LOCOMOTIVE FC | NEW PLAYERS ON THE ROSTER
- STRENGTH IN FORWARDS – What Locomotive lacked in its first two seasons was a threatening attack that could put away goals just as well as it could create chances. Head Coach Mark Lowry has bolstered the El Paso attacking front, adding new forwards Aidan Apodaca and Luis Solignac. In 2020, Aidan boasted one of the best goals per minute ratios in the USL, averaging a goal every 60 minutes, while Solignac led San Antonio FC in goals scored with eight in 16 appearances.
- DEPTH IN THE MIDFIELD – A large core of Locomotive players in the midfield rejoin the team in the new season, however Mark Lowry added depth in this area, to bring more bite to the Locomotive offense. Former Phoenix Rising FC midfielder Jose Aguinaga, who helped lift Phoenix to a record-breaking 20-game win streak and a Western Conference final victory joins the Locomotive midfield alongside the 17-year-old standout from the FC Barca Residency Academy, Diego Luna.
- SOLIDIFYING THE DEFENSE – The Locomotive defensive third has seen additional depth added in the four months since the end of the 2020 season. Defender Niall Logue, who boasted one of the top passing accuracy rates in USL League One in 2020 made the move up to the Championship. Meanwhile, two local El Paso goalkeepers, Marco Canales and Javier Beker joined the squad. Canales joins on loan, highlighting the ever-growing relationship with FC Juarez, while Beker has been training with the team since 2019, earning him a contract with the club for 2021.
COACHING STAFF CHANGES
- A NEW COACHING VISION – With the unfortunate departure of Assistant Coach Gabriel Zapponi, Head Coach Mark Lowry has opted to try something a bit unorthodox in the soccer realm by adopting a position oriented coaching structure. Assistant Coach Matt Williams has moved into an expanded role within the technical staff, and the club has added Attacking Principles Coach Dominic Casciato.
- NEW YEAR, NEW LOOK – 2021 marks the first season Locomotive will feature its new partnership with the global superpower in soccer sportswear, adidas. The partnership with adidas will allow Locomotive a sleeker look on the field while providing a high-quality jersey for El Paso fans.
- NATIONAL TV DEBUT – El Paso Locomotive is set to make its National TV debut in 2021, with two games featured on ESPN linear television. On June 3 Locomotive travels to take on Copa Tejas rival, Austin Bold FC in a match that will be televised on ESPN Deportes. The second ESPN Deportes match-up will be the home finale against OKC Energy on October 24, with Southwest University Park being featured on a national stage.
- OZZY JOINS THE ROSTER – Ahead of the 2020 season, El Paso Locomotive FC introduced a new member of its roster: Ozzy, the team’s mascot. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ozzy did not get to see many of the fans as he would have hoped, 2021 promises to be a new year for our Locomotive representative.
- THE OFFICIAL LOCOMOTIVE FC APP – 2020 saw El Paso Locomotive FC launch its own official app in both the Apple and Google Play stores. Get exclusive content, game-day information, and stay up to date with all things Locomotive by downloading the app for 2021.
- COACHING STAFF ADDITIONS – El Paso Locomotive Youth Soccer Club added local names to its growing staff with Michael Balogun and Ana Guevara joining the organization. Balogun joins the coaching staff having played for the USMNT U-17 team while moving through the Olympic Development Program. He holds a USSF B License and is currently working on his A License. Guevara takes on an administrative role for the Youth Soccer side, handling communications and serving as a resource for El Paso families participating in Locomotive Youth Soccer.
- FOUNDING A LEAGUE – Locomotive Youth Soccer Club has announced that it will be one of the founding members of the United Soccer League (USL) Academy League. Beginning play this year, Locomotive Youth Soccer will play in the Southwest Division alongside Colorado Rush, FC Tucson, New Mexico United, Orange County SC, Phoenix Rising FC, San Francisco Glens SC, and Ventura County Fusion.
- WEBSITE AND SOCIAL SITES – With the founding of the Locomotive Youth Soccer Club comes a new revamped Youth Soccer website and social pages on both Facebook and Instagram.
- Stay up to date with the future of El Paso soccer by following Locomotive Youth Soccer on social media @eplocomotiveyouthsoccer and visiting the website at eplocomotiveyouthsoccer.com for the latest information.