West Virginia’s home football game Saturday against Kansas will also mark the return of fans to Milan Puskar Stadium.
For the first time in 2020, the home of Mountaineer football will operate at 25 percent capacity, meaning roughly 15,000 spectators will get to see Saturday’s game in person. Only families of players and staff members and essential game day personnel were permitted inside the arena for West Virginia’s previous two home games this season.
WVU Athletics is excited to welcome fans back to the stadium, and has created a number of guidelines for those fans to follow as a safety precaution, according to April Messerly, associate athletic director for facilities and operations.
“We hope to do our best in trying to get people to enjoy Mountaineer football in as safe of a way as possible,” Messerly said in an exclusive interview for The Neal Brown Show, which aired over the weekend.
Among those coronavirus-related fan guidelines: all ticket holders will be required to wear masks inside the stadium, something Messerly said should “almost be habitual” in public spaces amid the pandemic.
“It is gonna be about the masks,” Messerly said. “We are gonna require masks for entry, and we are gonna expect our fans to wear their mask during the game. Aside from when they’re eating or drinking, we’re really gonna expect for them to wear masks.”
Fans will also be required to follow physical distancing guidelines inside the stadium. Matt Wells, WVU’s senior associate athletic director for external affairs, said tickets will be distributed in small groups, and that the 25 percent capacity cap will ensure that groups of fans remain at least six feet apart in all directions.
Wells said WVU worked with architecture professionals to create a game plan for optimal physical distancing in the stands. The 25 percent capacity cap aligns with what some other programs in the Big 12 have implemented for their home games.
“You put those reduced capacity manifests together, and they were coming out pretty consistently in that 20-30 percent range, and our’s came out at just about 25 percent,” Wells said. “So that’s why you’re seeing that number so consistently across the board. It’s just a product of how the numbers shake out once you incorporate social distancing of the different seat blocks into your manifest.”
Messerly added that distancing markers will be placed on the concourse pavement in areas where lines may form.
Other safety precautions will be put into effect before fans even enter the stadium. In an effort to provide contactless entry for all spectators, WVU has implemented mobile ticketing for football games this season.
“You used to have to put the scanner right up to your ticket when you came in,” Messerly said. “It’s more of a proxy scan now to where you can stay further away and we can say, ‘yep, I don’t have to get in your space and you don’t have to get in mine.”
Wells encourage fans to download their digital tickets to a smart device before heading to the stadium, but he noted that new WiFi access points have been installed near the stadium gates, which fans can use to access their tickets if needed.
Spectators will also be required to enter the stadium through specific gates based on the location of their seats.
In addition, tailgating will not be permitted in stadium lots.
WVU Medicine’s Security Department has also issued a set of parking guidelines for fans, patients and hospital visitors to follow this weekend. Read those parking guidelines here.
West Virginia’s game against Kansas will begin at noon ET. Fans watching from home Saturday can view the game on FOX.