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Huntsville City FC dilemma: No rest for the weary

HUNTSVILLE — And, just like that, opening night is over and it’s back to work for the next match at Wicks Family Field at Joe Davis Stadium for Huntsville City FC.

And that next match is just three days away.

“We’re rolling right now into our next match,” said Chad Emerson, the club’s managing director of business operations. “Now, we’re ready to introduce our fans to the next three weeks of HCFC soccer.”

Huntsville City FC hosts New York Red Bulls 2 on Friday as the home-opening homestand continues with visits June 4 from New York City FC 2 and June 11 from St. Louis City 2.

Last Friday’s opening night was relatively glitch-free. Parking ran smoothly even though fans had to endure a traffic circle in the parking lot – though it seemed to help the flow.

Lines at the concession stands didn’t stack up. They were long, though, and that was due to the 5,605 fans in attendance grabbing the opening night gear, food and beverages.

Emerson said the work on opening night preparations was months in the making.

“It goes back to last fall,” he said. “We were looking at how other facilities of similar size were handling it – from the (Huntsville) Havoc (hockey) to other pro soccer teams.”

Emerson said the club also picked up things – good and bad – from the Rocket City Trash Pandas.

The Trash Pandas went through growing pains as new team and new venue in its first few weeks. Now, in their third season, the Minor League Baseball team learned from its issues at Toyota Field in Madison and has made vast improvements from parking to ticketing to concessions.

“There’s always opportunities to learn from other venues,” Emerson said. “We tried to take everything we could and apply it to here.”

One of the things HCFC has adopted is a walk-through store. There is a concession stand on the southside of Wicks Family Field at Joe Davis Stadium where fans select merchandise behind the sales staff. But it’s limited to jerseys, shirts, scarves, caps and visors.

The store, on the northwest corner of The Joe offers an expanded selection, including collectible pins, badges, socks and even Nashville SC merchandise.

“We have the merchandise store because people like to touch what they’re buying,” Emerson said.

In the meantime, as the staff prepares for Friday’s visit from Red Bulls 2, Emerson said opening night will be special.

“It will always be a special memory for all of us,” he said.

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