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College Stadiums Plan for COVID Contingencies

Jason Scott

The global pandemic of COVID-19 has caused major disruptions over the past several months, and despite efforts to reopen the country and athletics facilities, those disruptions seem likely to continue into the fall sports season. 

As such, high-profile athletic departments are imagining scenarios for welcoming a limited number of fans into their stadiums as we approach the college football season.

The University of Texas has plans for welcoming fans back to Royal-Memorial Stadium at full capacity, but is planning for contingencies according to Hookem.com

“Our social modeling, if we were to stay with a true six-foot radius … we’re only somewhere between 30 and 35% (capacity) in that case,” Texas’ director of external operations Drew Martin said on a conference call with other athletics officials. 

Earlier this month, Texas governor Greg Abbott announced that collegiate and professional sports venues could operate at 50 percent capacity. That figure could change, depending on how the state continues to handle COVID cases. Hookem reports that Texas recorded a record number of hospitalizations on Monday, and that more than 2,100 people in the state were currently hospitalized due to the virus.

Meanwhile, the University of Georgia released its phased plan to return to full operations on Tuesday, according to the Athens Banner-Herald. The plans include a wide variety of possibilities for fans inside Sanford Stadium, including playing games without fans, with a limited number of fans, or at full capacity. 

Georgia’s plans also outline details for when teams can return to campus, as well as protocols for COVID-19 screenings among student-athletes.

“Personally, I’m hoping that we don’t have to put any restrictions on at Sanford Stadium,” UGA president Jere Morehead said last week. “But I have no idea what the public health experts are going to be telling us at that point and if they say we have to have social distancing or you have to wear masks then we’ll approach things as we’re advised to do so.”

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