We assumed that Syracuse Orange football games will have attendance limitations this Fall and a couple of weeks ago John Wildhack confirmed that Syracuse was looking at several options. What might some of those options be?
The Bundesliga and Premier League are returning without fans and both the NBA and NHL plan to do the same this summer. College ADs insist they will have fans in the stands, but is that realistic planning or just wishful thinking? Some Syracuse University health experts weighed in on the subject but putting aside the science we can look at the logistics.
It seems that no one expects there will be full capacity for at least the Dome opening against the Colgate Raiders in September. the biggest question that comes to mind with reduced capacity is “Who is in the crowd?” If capacity is reduced to 25% you’d be looking at a maximum crowd around 10,000 fans. How would you decide who gets in? Is it the first 10k who purchased tickets? The season ticket holders with the longest time with tickets? The largest boosters? Perhaps it’s done by lottery?
Not sure there’s a better way of doing things because no matter what method you use people won’t be happy. With all of the talk about lost revenue from last spring it’s hard to imagine any college turning away their biggest boosters in a reduced capacity scenario so it’s likely that someone else is getting squeezed. Syracuse saw a major increase in season ticket sales last year and they will need to be creative when it comes to maintaining the relationship with these fans moving forward.
Adjusting the stadium logistics to handle a reduced capacity might be the easiest thing for Syracuse to do in advance of the upcoming season. With the bench seating in the Dome it’s easy to install the seat backs to mark the distance between fans and clearly identify where those fans can sit within the recommended distancing guidelines. The configuration of the Dome could allow Syracuse to implement an entry/exit policy where fans would be allowed in/out at specific gates based upon the level and section of their seats. Stairways between the levels could be restricted to official use to stem the flow of traffic between the levels.
Concessions could be moved to a contact less process where food is packaged and drinks are served in plastic bottles or cans only. Syracuse had added grab and go stations recently and could be well-prepared in this area. The requirement for fans to wear masks is a big obstacle to doing this but what are the other options? You don’t want to monitor people coming in and out to eat/drink as that might require too much spent to staff and patrol fans coming back inside.
There’s also the question of parking and tailgate areas. You’d assume that shuttle buses are unlikely and lot capacities would also be reduced so if you move all the Manley and Skytop parking to lots around the Dome how would that look? Will SU be responsible for monitoring the lots to make sure fans are adhering to the guidelines, wearing masks, etc.?
Though it’s a bit early for us to get caught up in all the details it will be interesting to follow as we move through the summer. Not trying to be a downer here folks but you might want to be a bit patient about getting in to see the renovated Stadium in 2020.