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Survey says: Most BYU fans would attend football games at LaVell Edwards Stadium, if allowed

Deseret News did some crowdsourcing recently, asking BYU football fans if pandemic worries would keep them from attending games this season. Most said they will be there, wearing masks and adhering to all safety measures in place

Brigham Young University fans cheer a first down during BYU’s 17- 10 win over Utah in football at Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007. August Miller/ Deseret Morning News
BYU fans cheer a first down during BYU’s 17- 10 win over Utah in football at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007.
August Miller, Deseret News

PROVO — If the BYU Cougars play college football season this fall — and that’s a big if at this point — it is a given that seating will be limited at LaVell Edwards Stadium amid the coronavirus pandemic.

How limited is anybody’s guess. Between 25% and 50% of capacity (63,700) is one “ballpark estimate” making the rounds among season ticket holders and Cougar Club members.

Of more immediate concern for BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe and his staff is finding at least one September home opponent to replace Michigan State, which was supposed to visit on Sept. 12 before the Big Ten went conference games only on July 9.

As of now, BYU’s home opener is Oct. 2 against Utah State.

Holmoe didn’t address the seating capacity question on July 20 when he appeared on BYUtv, but there’s plenty of evidence that BYU officials are preparing to institute several safety measures regarding COVID-19 if games are ultimately played at LES. On July 1, BYU emailed a “BYU Football Safety Factors Survey” to season ticket holders asking for input on precautions ranging from requiring face coverings during the event to social distancing expectations to cashless payments for food and concession purchases.

Using BYU’s survey as a guide, the Deseret News conducted some crowdsourcing via social media recently to get the pulse of Cougar Nation regarding what diehard fans will put up with to attend BYU football games this fall.

Reactions were mixed, ranging from those who will do whatever it takes to see the Cougars play in-person this fall, to those who are taking a hard pass on the entire season — which is obviously still in jeopardy as start dates for preseason camps approach in a couple weeks.

Of the 50 or so respondents, an overwhelming majority said they plan to be in the seats — wherever they may be — when the opener arrives. A half-dozen said they are staying away.

Here’s a sampling:

• Matt Fereday of Provo hasn’t missed a home game in 13 years, “but it looks like that will likely change” this year, he said. “A lot has to happen for me to go.”

Primarily, Fereday said “sufficient public measures” would have to take place within the next two months, “and the virus pretty much disappears, like in New Zealand,” for him to change his mind.

“Also, specific communication that fans and workers must keep their noses covered in addition to their mouths would be important to me to feel comfortable attending,” Fereday said.

• Ryan Cragun of Pleasant View in northern Weber County has been a season ticket holder for 19 years and has purchased 24 seats this year (Some season ticket holders said BYU has stopped taking payment for the 2020 season — not a good sign, obviously).

Like all the respondents who said unequivocally that they will attend, Cragun said he will do anything BYU asks in the second question of the second survey. He said he would be “extremely comfortable” in a situation that does not require social distancing in the seating areas.

He said it is “not at all important” to him that the number of people allowed in a restroom at one time is controlled. Cashless payment at concession stands is “slightly important” to him.

• South Jordan’s Ryan Jacobson will do “whatever it takes to be able to have games at LES where fans can attend and cheer on the Cougs, using their own God-given discretion,” he said.

Jacobson said cashless payment is “very important” to him, but not just because a worldwide pandemic rages.

“I am always in favor of implementing processes and technologies that make the lives and experiences of your customers better and easier,” he said.

• Wearing faces masks has become a political issue throughout the country, and also in Utah County, but such a requirement wouldn’t keep any respondents away.

“Wearing a face mask would be quite annoying, but I am truly willing to comply with any and all regulations to attend BYU football games this year,” Jacobson said.

• Stansbury Park’s Trent Ladle is another season ticketholder willing to do whatever it takes. He’s just “somewhat comfortable” in a situation that does not require social distancing, however. But like all our respondents, he is willing to sit in his assigned seat even if better seats are empty.

“As you can see by my responses, I am basically willing to do anything needed to watch football games in LES this season,” Ladle said.

• Jake Andrus says certification of cleaning procedures by an independent organization is of utmost importance to him as he returns to LES. Cashless payment, on the other hand, is only slightly important.

• Brian Breinholt of Highland says he will attend as many home games as he’s allowed to attend, but is skeptical that will be every one after getting the first survey, which dealt more with actual attendance.

“I am thinking as a season ticket holder I may be allowed three games due to the allowed attendance numbers,” Breinholt said. “I am hoping they do it fair and give all season ticket holders no matter their Cougar Club status the same opportunities. .. I don’t want three lower-level games all in November.”

• Zachary Greenhalgh, who lives in Colorado, is getting antsy. “I need to start booking my flights for the season, but I am hesitant since we don’t know yet what the season will look like,” he says. “I am hoping we get some answers soon. Here’s to a normal season with fans in the stands!”