COLORAOD SPRINGS — The long-awaited countdown to the opener of the brand new downtown Colorado Spring stadium, Weidner Field, is finally here.
The Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC have nearly sold out their home opener against New Mexico United on Friday.
"We have double the amount of parking that we need," said Switchbacks President Nick Ragain. Due to COVID-19, the stadium will be at 70% capacity, but that could change prior to kickoff.
"It's an absolute honor to be out here for the inaugural game in this new stadium," explained Switchbacks FC defender Jimmy Ockford. "I think that's going to bring our energy level up tomorrow, knowing this is the first professional game on this turf. I think everybody has the same mindset of going out and getting the job done."
For Colorado Springs native, Air Academy & Air Force alum, and Switchbacks FC forward Austin Dewing, the excitement level is through the rough.
"We are living the dream, absolutely," said Dewing. "You play youth soccer and you think about coming up through the ranks and trying to play professionally and this is what it's all about. This is why we do it. We've been training for four months to have this season opener. We couldn't be more excited."
Kickoff at Weidner Field is set for 7 p.m., but the Switchbacks FC recommended getting to the stadium early for pre-game festivities and staying after the game for the fireworks show.
Fans heading to the field for the first time may want to figure out a parking plan in advance. There is a map on the Switchbacks website showing the best options.
Stadium designers, parking consultants, and parking managers for the City of Colorado Springs all collaborated on parking options. "We've come up with a diversified parking model which has people parking in various locations throughout the city," said Colorado Springs Parking Enterprise Director, Scott Lee.
Studies showed many parking options within minutes of the stadium underutilized during the typical hours of events at the stadium. Street metered parking, some pay surface parking lots, as well as city and county parking garages now have added purpose for Weidner Field events.
Parking is not on-site, but it is closer than some parking lots at large stadiums with on-site parking. "The average walk is about seven minutes and certainly you can get closer parking than that," said Ragain. Planners say there is also a benefit when events end and thousands all leave at once.