Frisco sports teams waiting to see when, whether seasons will resume

(Courtesy FC Dallas)
(Courtesy FC Dallas)

(Courtesy FC Dallas)

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Major League Soccer announced April 17 that it was extending the postponement of its season until at least June 8. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
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The Frisco RoughRiders led all 30 Double-A teams in Minor League Baseball in attendance last season. (Courtesy Visit Frisco)
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Frisco RoughRiders President and General Manager Andy Milovich said he expects the team’s season will start in conjunction with whenever Major League Baseball begins play. (Courtesy Frisco RoughRiders)
Instead of crowds cheering on their favorite players and the excitement of opening day, Toyota Stadium and Dr Pepper Ballpark sat empty throughout April as part of efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The Frisco RoughRiders had a total attendance last year of 455,765 fans. That marked the 15th straight season Frisco led all 30 Double-A teams in Minor League Baseball in attendance.

RoughRiders President and General Manager Andy Milovich said he was unsure whether the team would see any attendance this year because of the uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic.

“I hope that we'll be able to play,” Milovich said. “We're preparing as though we will, and I think, along with the other 350 million people in the country, and across the world, we're anxiously optimistic that we’ll get ahead of this [pandemic].”

FC Dallas played two home games before the Major League Soccer season was postponed. The team won its season opener in front of 16,216 spectators on Feb. 29 and played to a 2-2 draw before 15,865 fans on March 7.

Gina Miller, vice president of media and communications for FC Dallas, said the club hopes to be able to play its remaining 15 home matches at Toyota Stadium this season. However, where, when and whether the club plays its remaining matches is up in the air, she said.

“I can't necessarily rule out anything or can't necessarily say this is something we're considering,” she said. “Because I think everything is something that we are considering.”

FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez said playing in empty stadiums would not be his preference, but the players would do so with pride if it comes to that.

“If that's what we have to do to take steps to earn being together in a real fan environment with full stadiums, that's what we're going to do,” Gonzalez said. “Although it's not ideal, it still [would be] better than the situation we are in right now where we're not even able to train together.”

When businesses and attractions do fully reopen, Frisco Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tony Felker said he expects the local tourism industry to see a slow and gradual build to get back to where it was before the coronavirus. Because of that, Felker said he believes people will feel more comfortable going to some of the city’s smaller attractions before attending major sporting events.

“Part of what’s wonderful about sports is you lose yourself in the passion of the moment,” Felker said. “Something happens, and you high-five somebody next to you—a complete stranger. You’re screaming and shouting out. Those are the things that from a behavioral perspective, innately we cannot be doing for awhile.”

Milovich said he expects the RoughRiders’ season will start in conjunction with whatever Major League Baseball does. As RoughRiders players are under contract with the team’s parent club, the Texas Rangers, Frisco’s roster is not set until right before opening day for the big league club. Since that date came and went with baseball still postponed, the RoughRiders held a “stay-at-home opener” April 16 with a simulated game streamed online. The festivities also included a virtual seventh inning stretch and video of postgame fireworks.

Once things do open back up, Milovich said he expects there will be a strong desire to “return to normal” and socialize, but he agrees that there could also be trepidation.

“Realistically, you have to anticipate that there's going to be a lot of people that are concerned out of the gates, and there's going to be some restrictions based on how quickly you return to normal and what normal is for the time being,” Milovich said. “I think over time, we'll get back to normal, but in the short term it’s going to be a work in progress for everybody.”
By William C. Wadsack
William C. Wadsack is the senior reporter for the Plano and Richardson editions of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as managing editor of several daily and weekly publications in North Texas and his native state of Louisiana before joining Community Impact Newspaper in 2019.


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