KU to allow fans at next home football game, other events in October
photo by: Nick Krug
The bleachers inside David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium won’t look quite so empty at the KU football team’s next home game.
After the Jayhawks played their Sept. 12 opener without any fans, KU Chancellor Douglas Girod announced Friday the team’s Oct. 3 matchup with Oklahoma State will mark the university’s first home athletic event of the semester with fans in attendance.
In a message posted to the university’s website, Girod said the university has been cleared to have approximately 10,000 fans — a little more than 21% of the stadium’s 47,233 capacity — for its homecoming football game.
Just as with the opener, there will be no tailgating allowed outside of the venue.
Athletic Director Jeff Long, in a separate post, said KU will also allow 400 fans at Rock Chalk Park Soccer Stadium, 250 fans at Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena and a yet-to-be-determined number of fans for cross country races at Rim Rock Farm.
As of Friday, the plan is to allow a small amount of fans to attend all KU athletics events throughout October, and Long said he hoped fans could still be allowed “throughout the academic year.”
Girod emphasized, though, that the decision to welcome back fans was “fluid” and could change “at any time.” And Long said the procedures for attendance would be reviewed each week and could change depending on the pandemic situation.
“In partnership with local health officials, we will do a full debrief after the game and make adjustments as needed,” Girod said of KU’s Oct. 3 football game. “Certainly it is our hope to continue hosting fans throughout the fall, but these decisions will be made in an ongoing way based on the latest information, and always at the guidance of the pandemic medical advisory team.”
The medical advisory team, which has played a major role in KU’s reopening, includes Girod and area public health officials.
Girod outlined some of the protocols that will be in place for the KU football game:
• Fans must wear masks at all times.
• All stadium seating will be reserved to set up proper social distancing.
• Fans will enter through contactless metal detectors.
• Shuttle buses will operate at reduced capacity.
• Elevators will be limited to five people at a time.
• Hand-washing stations and Plexiglass barriers have been installed in the stadium.
• Law enforcement officers will monitor neighborhoods surrounding the stadium.
Fans will be removed from the stadium if they don’t follow the rules about wearing masks and using the reserved stadium seating, Girod said.
Girod said the decision to welcome back fans was based on the fact that regional COVID-19 rates remain stable and “in line with what we are prepared to manage.” He also said having one home football game without fans gave KU an extra month to “learn from other universities and professional sports organizations that have been hosting competitions.”
After KU football’s Oct. 3 home game, the Jayhawks have a bye week, followed by back-to-back road games before they return to Lawrence for an Oct. 31 meeting with Iowa State.
In his post on Friday, Long urged fans to comply with the new rules.
“It’s been a while since we have done this, and circumstances are much different, so we will need everyone’s help to make this possible for the duration of football season and the upcoming basketball season,” Long wrote.
At all of KU’s sports venues, concession lines will be socially distanced with limited menus, and cash won’t be accepted.
KU volleyball is scheduled to play host to West Virginia on Oct. 9 and 10. KU soccer’s first October home date is Oct. 16 versus Oklahoma State. KU cross country is scheduled to host the Big 12 Championship on Oct. 30.
KU football averaged about 33,874 fans for its seven home dates during Miles’ first season, with the venue selling out (47,233) for the Jayhawks’ rivalry game versus Kansas State.