Despite being identified as the country’s worst-hit coronavirus hotspot on Monday, Iowa State plans to allow around 25,000 fans to attend its season opener at Jack Trice Stadium on Sept. 12.
The Cyclones are set to play their season opener with approximately 25,000 fans at the stadium, with social distancing and mitigation strategies that need to be implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Claiming to further host another game if all is well, Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said in a letter to fans on Monday, “If our mitigation actions are successful, we will allow all season ticket purchasers to attend the Oklahoma game Oct. 3. However, if we determine that mitigation measures were not followed adequately at the first game, we will have no fans at future games (beginning with Oklahoma).”
Authorities have advised the Iowa State not to host fans at home games, especially since Story County’s 14-day positivity rate is currently at 21.3%, according to data provided by the state. Furthermore, statistics show that 80% of these cases are from individuals aged 18-to-40. The county reported a record 167 positive tests Wednesday, Aug. 26. The previous pre-August high was 59 on June 15.
The Story County Board of Health wrote to the Iowa State in June saying, “We strongly recommend that Iowa State University prohibit spectators at sporting events this fall. Please only broadcast them. We cannot think of any way these events can be made even remotely safe with the masses of people from throughout Iowa, and other states, who routinely attend these events. Please do it for the health of our community.”
In his letter to fans, Pollard also wrote, “Every person has a unique perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are fearless, others are cautious. Our measures will be too restrictive for some and too lenient for others. All we ask is that you respect others, follow our guidelines, and support the Cyclones.”
In a bid to keep the States economy alive and well amidst the pandemic situation, Pollard estimated the Cyclones would see $40 million in “unfunded expenses” if football was not played in the fall. Iowa State sold more than $11 million in tickets for the 2019 football season. Assuring fans further Pollard mentioned, “We will continue to monitor the situation closely the next two weeks, and will take appropriate actions, including no fans for the first game if circumstances warrant changes.”