Almost a decade after the Dallas Beer Guardians were formed to bring noise to the north end of Toyota Stadium, the Beer Garden will remain silent for the 2021 season-opening game with Colorado.
The Guardians, along with El Matador, begin a new chapter in a new home in the southwest corner of the stadium, in a dedicated supporters’ section dubbed The Rhine after the great Bobby Rhine.
“We here at El Matador are looking forward to moving to a safe standing section for the first time in FC Dallas’ history,” said El Matador President Luis Dollar. “This is a step in the right direction for the club and its goals of making a better atmosphere possible.”
COVID-19 protocols forced a reduction in capacity as field level bleachers that made up the majority of the 975 spaces in the north end were ruled out along with the first rows in many Major League Soccer stadiums in 2020. The two groups took up a temporary home in the shadow of the National Soccer Hall of Fame as FC Dallas put together a proposal to rehouse the groups in sections 112 and 113, just across the south end from the wedge that the Inferno called home in Toyota Stadium’s early years.
“Being next to the first team as they enter and exit the field, as well as during warmups, will be a huge deal for us and we are anxious to get back to creating traditions between our groups for both pre and post-game,” DBG President Steven Goold told 3rd Degree. “There will be a great space for anyone who plays an instrument in either group with designated capo stands as well which will be a step up in that regard. Additionally, we are looking forward to the new and different Tifo displays we will be able to work on throughout the coming season. Our entire focus in 2021 will be on growing supporters’ culture and building tradition within the club.”
A large part of the proposal came in a promise of safe standing. Leaving behind bleachers that frequently sustained damage and caused minor injury. The groups and FC Dallas debated a couple of different styles, settling on a series of individual railings with cup holders. As of an open house held 48 hours before first kick, those railings were not in place with FC Dallas citing the vendor’s failure to appear or complete fabrication in an acceptable time.
A second vendor has been brought in to attach temporary crowd control barriers for the initial game, with view of a permanent solution being in place for FC Dallas’ game against Portland Timbers on May 1.
FC Dallas President Dan Hunt spoke about the factors in moving the Guardians and El Matador in his season-opening press conference and was excited to see the fans and players brought closer together after the new locker rooms on the south end spelled the end of the teams walking up through the side of the north end into the tunnel.
“On the safe standing, it has been something that has been asked for and asked for and asked for, explained Hunt. “It’s one of those things that resonates with me that I’ve heard a number of times, and we’ve talked about and what to do. And then obviously, with the switching up with the building with the Hall of Fame now that those fans can be down there by the players as they’re coming out, and where they’ll warm up, I think that’s fabulous.
“I also think because of the way the building is designed too, you know, our supporters are loud, and the setup down there that is going to resonate around the stadium, I think it will be better, even better for the engagement of our fans.”