Texas A&M, Alabama annouce reduced capacity stadiums this season

Geaux Nation

Bryant-Denny Stadium

LSU coach Ed Orgeron says the defending national champion Tigers have had “very few” players test positive for COVID-19.

Orgeron said during a video conference Tuesday that the team had “two or three guys that are out” because of positive tests. He did not specify which players had tested positive.

Orgeron says LSU administrators overseeing coronavirus protocols, led by Senior Associate Athletic Director of Health and Wellness Shelly Mullenix, have done a “tremendous job.

“We’re ahead (of) most programs,” Orgeron said. “Our players feel comfortable that they’re getting proper care.”

August camp formally opened on Monday and LSU has had two players opt out because of coronavirus concerns, senior cornerback Kary Vincent Jr. and senior defensive end Neil Farrell Jr.

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Texas A&M has established a reduced capacity, distanced seating plan designed to host fans at Kyle Field as safely as possible.

The university’s plan focuses on the recommended health protocols and ensures that attendance during the season will comply with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order limiting the normal operating capacity for outdoor sporting venues.

The exact capacity percentage will be determined based on the number of season ticket holders and student sport pass holders who choose to attend.

The football season is scheduled to begin Sept. 26. Initial anticipated attendance to begin the season is approximately 30% of normal stadium operating capacity, but that’s subject to change based on state health developments. Kyle Field’s capacity is 102,733.

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Alabama will allow about 20% capacity for games at Bryant-Denny Stadium this season.

The university released its plans for dealing with COVID-19 at games, noting seating will be set up to allow social distancing.

The Crimson Tide opens its home schedule against Texas A&M on Oct. 3. Southeastern Conference teams are scheduled to play only 10 league games starting on Sept. 26.

Alabama will have mobile-only ticketing and parking to allow for contactless entry for all venues.

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All Ohio high school sports can go forward this fall, with an option for sports like football or soccer to be delayed until the spring if schools wish, Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday.

The governor’s order takes effect Friday and prohibits spectators at events other than family members or individuals close to athletes, with final decisions on those people left up to schools.

It will be up to schools to police the limits on attendance at sporting events.

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Notre Dame has canceled in-person undergraduate classes for two weeks after a spike of coronavirus cases since the semester began last week.

University president the Rev. John Jenkins says he decided against sending students home after consulting with health care experts. Instead, the university is imposing restrictions on student activity, including limiting access to dormitories to residents and barring students from major gathering places on campus.

Jenkins said there have been 147 confirmed cases of coronavirus on campus since the start of classes and called it “very serious” in an address to students and staff.

Football coach Brian Kelly says the team is testing every week and players have to wear masks, practice social distancing, and avoid large gatherings. Kelly says if players want to play they have to maintain that discipline.

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North Carolina coach Mack Brown said he remains “confident” that the Tar Heels will play football this season after the school shut down in-person undergraduate classes.

Brown said Tuesday that the school’s move to online courses after recent coronavirus clusters in student housing and a fraternity could ultimately help “create a better seal around our program and a better bubble.”

Brown said team staffers hosted a Zoom call for parents on Monday to address questions. Athletes can choose to remain in current residences, while some football players have previously chosen to opt out of the upcoming season.

Brown said many players were already taking online courses and that the team will continue once-weekly testing of players for the coronavirus.

He said the team is trying to “make sure our players and our staff understand that we’ve got three months here where we cannot go outside for social reasons or to eat or anything else if we want to have our football season.”

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The Southeastern Conference will prohibit “suite hopping” as part of COVID-19 guidelines designed for fan safety and health in preparation for conference-only play this season.

Decisions on whether fans can attend games will be made closer to Sept. 26 when the league begins play. Attendance numbers will be left to member schools but must follow state and local guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations should be followed in the absence of those measures.

Furniture in premium seating and clubs shall be arranged to promote physical distancing, the guidelines add. Physical distancing and face coverings will also be stressed there as well as in public areas, including concessions, where barriers must be installed. The SEC guidelines also suggest “grab and go” food options, with drinks provided directly to spectators and single-serve condiments offered.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said its 14 schools adopted the fan guidelines as a baseline and added, “They provide conference-wide expectations for protection of guests who are able to attend our games.”

(Provided by The Associated Press)

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