AMES – Iowa State has decided to allow thousands of fans into their next football game, just weeks after Ames was in the news as a COVID-19 hotspot.
In a public letter from Iowa State University administration:
Dear Cyclone fans,
Earlier this month, we decided that no fans would be allowed to attend the first football game because of significant increases in positive COVID tests on campus and in Story County.
We also said that we remain committed to having spectators at future games if it could be done safely. The way the community and our campus responded to that surge in positive COVID cases would be a significant factor as it relates to hosting fans at future games.
Campus officials have closely monitored the local COVID positivity rate, factored in projected attendance (a number of individuals have opted out of their tickets the last month) for an Iowa State home game and noted the crowd sizes that other institutions / NFL teams have hosted this season to best assess the feasibility of having fans at games.
We have also consulted with Dr. Chris Hostler of ICS (Infection Control Education for Major Sports), an independent organization run by two Duke University infectious-disease doctors, who have been providing recommendations to the NFL, the NFL Players Association and the Big 12 Conference.
COVID weekly positivity results from on campus testing have drastically declined from a high of 33% on Aug. 30 to 5% on Sept. 20. The campus 10-day rolling average as of Sept. 22 has declined to 4%. Additionally, the 14-day virus positivity results from Story County testing has declined from 22% on Sept. 1 to 8% on Sept. 23.
Our projected attendance has decreased from 25,000 to approximately 15,000 (less than 25% of the stadium’s 61,500-seat capacity) as many fans have opted out of their tickets.
Finally, other institutions have successfully hosted fans the last two weeks. The Kansas City Chiefs opened the NFL season in front of 17,000 fans and other Big 12 schools have also had fans in their stadiums. Our staff has been in contact with the Chiefs organization and other Big 12 schools who have had fans at games to learn more about game-day operations in their stadiums. Additionally, members of the University public health team have connected with State and Story County public health officials to solicit feedback on game-day mitigation strategies.
After close review of this information, especially the declining virus positivity rates, we have decided to permit fans at our next home game (Oct. 3 vs. Oklahoma).
The safety of all participants and fans remains our top priority. We have thoroughly discussed many mitigation options and encourage you to click this link (Desktop/Laptop | Mobile) to see an overview of those measures.
We have also decided that there will be no general admission seating. All fans will have an assigned seat to provide for efficient contact tracing, if necessary. As a result, Jr. Cyclone Club hillside seating will be eliminated for the season. Those fans, who purchased Jr. Cyclone Club passes for the hills, will have their ticket purchases refunded.
In order to provide sufficient social distancing in the student section, we have decided to limit capacity to 1,000 seats and restrict access to various areas of the student section to further create space between groups of students. This is similar to what other institutions have successfully implemented in their student sections.
We will give full refunds (for the price of the season ticket) to all students who purchased tickets. Athletics will conduct a random drawing, among students who kept their tickets, to determine which students will receive complimentary tickets to the Oklahoma game. Student ticket plans for the Texas Tech game will be dependent upon how well students comply with our mitigation rules at the Oklahoma game and how well students comply with the University’s social gathering policy.
Finally, the athletics department has strategically reassigned all remaining seat locations for the general public using current Cyclone Club giving levels, priority points within those levels and taking into account location and/or price, to create improved social distancing.
You can click here to see an overview of the stadium by section with seats plotted for the tickets purchased. The ticket office will be emailing all account holders, who have chosen to keep their tickets in 2020, a new seating location later today. Unfortunately, we are not able to allow fans who previously opted out of their tickets to opt back in now.
An important factor in the decision to allow fans at our games is our belief that Cyclone fans are willing to adhere to our mitigation measures. The purpose of this letter is to ask for your support in helping create a safe environment while also providing our team an impactful home field advantage. This is an incredible opportunity for Iowa State University to showcase its ability to successfully navigate the challenges associated with large outdoor events during a pandemic.
Please understand it will be critical that we receive full buy-in, from everyone attending the game. Any fan who does not adhere to our mitigation requirements will be denied entry and/or removed from the stadium. Furthermore, any fan removed from the stadium will have their tickets revoked for the season.
We wanted to highlight several of the elements from the mitigation document we linked above. Please review these measures in order to help us have a successful home game.
- Health Check – If you are sick or have symptoms related to COVID-19, please do not come to the game. Stay home and cheer on the Cyclones on television.
- Parking – Fans should arrive early to avoid traffic congestion, park their vehicle, gather game gear and walk directly to the stadium for entrance. Do not gather in the parking lots to socialize.
- No Tailgating – There will be no tailgating on university-owned property, including parking lots and grass areas adjacent to parking lots. Fans may not bring nor set up items normally associated with a tailgate such as lawn chairs, coolers, grills, tents, canopies, tables, etc.
- Face Coverings – Wear your face covering upon exit from your vehicle. Face coverings will be required at ALL times for ALL individuals. Anyone, who refuses to properly wear a face covering (must cover both your mouth and nose), will be denied access and/or removed from the stadium.
- Stadium Entry – Prepare to enter the stadium early. Gates will open 90 minutes prior to kickoff. Honor other fans’ wishes for physical distancing and avoid crowding at entry.
- Seating – All fans were reassigned new seating locations and it is critical to sit in those seats to maintain social distancing.
- Fan Flow – We encourage fans to remain in their seats as much as possible to limit congestion on the concourses.
- Departing the Stadium – Use your own judgment when departing the stadium. Take your time while leaving and respect others desire for physical distancing. There will be no tailgating or social gatherings in the parking lots after the game.
Lastly, we will continue to monitor the community and campus COVID positivity rates, as well as crowd behavior at the game. The information included in this letter, and corresponding documents, are subject to modifications if circumstances warrant changes.
Thank you for your understanding and support during these very challenging times.
Wendy Wintersteen Jamie Pollard
President Director of Athletics