SALT LAKE CITY — More than 45,000 people were supposed to pack into Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City Thursday night as the Utah Utes took on the BYU Cougars to open their college football season, and another 25,000-plus were supposed to be at Maverik Stadium in Logan as the Utah State Aggies faced the Washington State Cougars.
Of course, those games are not happening, as neither the Utes nor Aggies will play this fall because their conferences (the Pac-12 and Mountain West, respectively) postponed fall sports because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Independent BYU, as well as some conferences and other select schools, are forging ahead with trying to play a season, however, none will have stadiums full of fans at home games. While the Cougars haven’t publicly announced capacity limitations at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo for their Sept. 26 home opener against the Troy Trojans, many schools have as the season starts getting into gear.
Here’s a look at what some Power Five programs have publicly announced, organized by conference.
Atlantic Coast Conference
There’s a relatively wide spectrum of plans for what ACC schools’ home game attendance policies will be, reflecting the concept that different states and different university leadership have different circumstances when it comes to safely allowing fans into stadiums.
Duke (in North Carolina), for example, announced that no fans will be allowed at home games throughout the entirety of the season, while Louisville (Kentucky) will allow 30% of its regular stadium capacity, approximately 18,000 fans, with fans required to wear face masks.
Some other attendance decisions from conference schools:
Clemson: The recent perennial power announced that 19,000 fans, or approximately 23% of capacity, will be allowed in the stadium. Fans will be seated primarily in pods of two and four affiliated guests throughout the stadium with distancing between pods.
Notre Dame: An ACC school in a bunch of sports, the Fighting Irish football program has temporarily left the independent ranks so it could more easily build a schedule for this fall. The school announced that maximum stadium capacity will be 20%, with priority given to students. Remaining tickets will be made available to faculty and staff as the school tries to minimize the number of people from outside locales going to campus.
Miami: Will allow 13,000 fans (approximately 20% of stadium capacity) into its home opener on Sept. 10, but no students will be allowed for the first two home games (Sept. 26).
Pittsburgh: No fans will be allowed at home games through September, but a policy beyond that has not yet been determined.
Georgia Tech: 20% stadium capacity, with the specification that fans ages 2 and up must wear face coverings.
Wake Forest: No fans will be allowed at the Demon Deacons’ Sept. 12 home opener against Clemson, but determination beyond that has not yet been made.
NC State: Just over 100 miles away from Wake Forest’s campus in North Carolina, NC State has announced that no fans will be allowed at its only September home game on the 19th against the Demon Deacons, but a determination beyond that has not been made.
The Big 12 is an example of how fast things can change on the attendance front. Iowa State had originally announced that the maximum capacity for its Sept. 12 home opener against Louisiana would be 25%, but just days later, it announced that no fans would be allowed into the game. That said, the school left open the possibility of having fans at future home games (Oct. 3 against Oklahoma is its next one after the opener).
Some other schools’ decisions:
Kansas: No fans will be allowed at its Sept. 12 home opener against Coastal Carolina — its only home game in September — but athletic director Jeff Long said “we truly believe” it will be possible to have fans in October and November.
West Virginia: The only fans who will be allowed for its Sept. 12 home opener against Eastern Kentucky are player families, but no determination has been made for fans beyond that.
Kansas State: 25% stadium capacity will be allowed for all home games.
Quite a few SEC schools have formally announced stadium capacity plans as the college football frenzied region gets ready for the unique season that is sure to come.
Here’s a rundown:
Alabama: Multiple outlets have reported that an email was sent to ticket holders saying that stadium capacity would be approximately 20% and there will be no tailgating activities on campus.
Texas A&M: Had originally announced 30% capacity, but has reduced that to 25%.
Georgia: Announced 20-25% capacity.
Auburn: Announced 20% capacity.
Mississippi State: Announced 25% capacity.
Tennessee: Announced 25% capacity.
Florida: Announced 20% of capacity.