This story was updated at 12:10 p.m. March 5.
A change of venue was granted by the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) for the annual rivalry football game between the Carlsbad Cavemen and Artesia Bulldogs, said Carlsbad Municipal Schools Superintendent Dr. Gerry Washburn.
Both teams will travel from Eddy County to Hobbs in Lea County to play, following approval of the proposal by the New Mexico Public Education Department on Friday morning, Washburn said.
Washburn said he and Artesia Public Schools Superintendent John Ross Null had initially proposed to PED to allow parents, guardians and grandparents into Ralph Bowyer Caveman Stadium in Carlsbad for the Feb. 5 Eddy County War.
Washburn argued the stadium had enough space to allow fans to attend safely, but that request was denied.
Thursday night the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) loosened COVID-19 public health orders allowing spectators at school-related sporting events for some counties, including neighboring Lea County, read a PED news release.
Eddy County remains under the strictest COVID-19 restrictions and no fans are allowed at high school sporting events. Lea County was downgraded to a “yellow” category last week meaning up to 25 percent of fans would be allowed to attend tonight’s game at Watson Memorial Stadium.
Things to know if you want to attend
Attendance at is restricted to 3,000 fans based on stadium occupancy.
Artesia and Carlsbad were allotted 1,500 tickets each.
Tickets went on sale at 11 a.m. at the Carlsbad Athletic Office and the Bulldog Pit for parents, guardians and grandparents.
Washburn said family ticket sales would cease at 1 p.m. and then the general public could purchase tickets from 1 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Tickets will not be sold at the gate.
Gates open at 6 p.m. and kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
NMAA supports decision to relocate game venue
“We wouldn’t violate health orders by playing at a neutral site,” Washburn said.
Artesia Public Schools Superintendent John Ross Null observed Bulldog parents purchasing tickets at the Bulldog Pit moments after they went on sale.
“We’re very excited to come together,” he said.
Dusty Young, spokesperson for the New Mexico Activities Association, supported the decision.
“We’re glad our student-athletes have the opportunity to participate,” he said.
A pair of soccer matches set for Saturday in Carlsbad were moved to Hobbs, Washburn said.
The Carlsbad Cavemen and Artesia Bulldogs hit the pitch at 9 a.m. and the girls play at 11 a.m. Washburn said tickets would be sold at the gate on a first come, first served basis.
“The administration of both schools is grateful to Hobbs Municipal Schools for making this opportunity possible for the fans of both communities,” Washburn noted in the press release.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at MSmith@currentargus.com or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.