WEST LAFAYETTE — A key question facing pro and college teams as they make plans to resume play in the COVID-19 world is whether fans will be allowed in the stadiums and arenas.
Thursday, Purdue University President Mitch Daniels offered a more detailed look at what might take place at Ross-Ade Stadium when the Boilermaker football team plays its first home game of the 2020 season on September 12, against the University of Memphis.
It will not be business as usual.
Daniels spoke in Washington before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The subject was higher education's response to COVID-19, "Going Back to College Safely."
Ross-Ade has a capacity of about 57,000. According to Purdue Athletics, an initial plan calls for a capacity of 15,000, about 25% or the stadium's total seating. That could be adjusted up or down as COVID-19 conditions evolve.
"We are not looking at going beyond one fourth of 57,000 in our stadium," Daniels told the committee. "Now this has been mapped out just as we have mapped out classrooms and dorm rooms to measure distance and exceed the requirements."
"We know that outdoors is a very different. It's very hard to spread this outdoors, but we are still going to take an abundance of caution approach," Daniel said.
How exactly all of this would be accomplished isn't yet clear, since 15,000 is well below a typical Purdue crowd. Who would get tickets and who wouldn't?
Much will also depend on what the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA say, along with Purdue's medical advisory team.
Daniels also said that sports played inside, such as basketball, pose a greater risk for fans. For now, he doesn't see a way for fans to attend inside events.
The Purdue president has been outspoken in recent weeks that students will be on campus for the fall semester, with many new precautions being taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
And what about Indiana University football? Could there be a reduced capacity at Memorial Stadium this season? The sports information director for the football team said no decision has been made.