Notre Dame president doesn't anticipate being able to fill Notre Dame's 80,000-seat stadium this fall
Momentum for having a college football season in fall 2020 continues to grow with each passing day. However, that momentum doesn’t currently exist when it comes to being able to fill stadiums across the country in just a few months.
The NCAA has lifted its moratorium on organized team activities and athletic departments are putting together plans to have student-athletes return to campuses as early as June 1. That’s all positive for the outlook of a college football season. However, multiple media personalities, college athletic directors and health experts have stated that it’s unlikely that stadiums will be able to be full this season, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
University of Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins was the latest to make a similar remark. He recently wrote an editorial in the New York Times stating that it’s unlikely that Notre Dame Stadium, which holds over 80,000 fans, will be able to be filled this fall for Fighting Irish football games.
Here’s what Jenkins wrote in the New York Times:
Athletic competition presents another set of challenges. We believe we can, with aggressive testing, hygiene and careful monitoring, keep student-athletes safe. Indeed, keeping healthy relatively small cadres of student-athletes, coaches and support staff members is a less daunting challenge than keeping safe the several thousand other people in the campus community.
Fans in the stadium, however, are a different matter. Fighting Irish fans regularly fill Notre Dame Stadium’s 80,000 seats. I see no way currently to allow spectators unless we restrict admissions so that physical distancing is possible.
Our focus to this point has been on restarting our educational and research efforts, and we will soon turn to answer the question of how many games we will play, when we will play them and how many fans will be in the stadium.
Jenkins’ comments aren’t too different from what Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith said last week in a Zoom meeting with reporters.
Smith said he expected social distancing guidelines to be in place for the football season, meaning The Horseshoe is unlikely to reach capacity this year. However, he did expect scenarios where anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 fans could be permitted inside Ohio Stadium depending on government and health requirements at the time.
‘While full stadiums are certainly a big part of college football games, seeing a limited capacity in the venues is a small price to pay to see the sport return on time this fall.