Stuve: More sports teams limiting fan attendance in the fall


Long exposure of traffic passing by on South 4th Street in front of Jack Trice Stadium.

Sam Stuve

With professional sports leagues playing their seasons without fans in attendance currently, the likelihood of having games in front a full crowd seems low.

Schools around the country are currently trying to put together plans to limit fan attendance because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Iowa State is still planning on having 30,000 fans in attendance, according to their last update

This is despite the Story County Board of Health advising Iowa State to not allow fans to go to football games in the fall.

Iowa State is not the university that is considering a limited capacity level at fall sporting events.

The University of Michigan, who has the largest football stadium in the nation, Michigan Stadium (nicknamed “The Big House”), is eliminating season tickets and is selling individual tickets by game.

By doing this, Michigan is allowing itself to be flexible week by week depending on virus activity.

That’s if games are going to be played, according to the university

Another university, Kentucky, is limiting fan attendance to just 50 percent capacity for football and men’s basketball games.

For football games, this would allow 30,500 fans and for basketball games, 10,272. 

Professional sports have begun regular season play, albeit with some or no fans in attendance.

Major League Baseball has most of its teams playing games in front of empty stadiums as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which usually has 350,000 attendees, is being limited to just 25 percent capacity (87,500 people).

For the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars, their stadium, TIAA Bank Field, will only be a quarter full in the 2020 season.

The Jaguars have announced they will limit fan attendance to 25 percent capacity. 

While it looks like the Jaguars will have fans in attendance for football games, some teams will not. 

New Jersey, which is home to the New York Giants and Jets, will play their home games in MetLife Stadium in an empty stadium as the state of New Jersey has barred fans from attending professional and college games for the foreseeable future.

The NFL as a whole is letting the teams and their states decide what they want to do for fan attendance.

This is something the NCAA may do as well. Although, the NCAA does have over 1,200 institutions across Division I, II and III, so it could decide to simplify things and bar colleges from having fans at athletic events in the fall.

While Iowa State fans may be concerned about not being able to attend university athletic competitions in the fall, there are some reasons to be optimistic about the hopes of being able to attend, assuming it is healthy to do so.

Since stating on May 28 that it was planning on limiting attendance to 30,000 fans, Iowa State hasn’t wavered from that stance.

It is also interesting to note that Niceville, Florida, the site of the Emerald Coast Classic, where the Iowa State men’s basketball team is playing in November, is also now hosting the Cayman Islands Tournament, meaning that locals seem confident about the Emerald Coast Classic being played. 

Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard said July 13 that the athletic department is working toward implementing mitigation efforts to reduce the risk of fans and players getting COVID-19 at games in the fall and more details will be released in the near future. This is a statement the university has been saying since May.

The athletic department said Monday it has had nine positive COVID-19 cases out of its 386 tests since student-athletes began returning to campus June 15. 

While it is unclear how many or if any fans are going to be in attendance at fall sporting events, it seems to be clear games being played in a full stadium in the fall is unlikely.

With more students coming back to campus Aug. 1 and after, the potential spread of COVID-19 in Ames and around campus is going to be higher. If there are a lot of positive cases then fans could be prohibited from attending sporting events.

This however, is only speculation. Iowa State’s fan attendance policy may not be finalized until mid-to-late August when classes begin on campus.