The UNC athletic department's announcement last week that about 3,500 fans would be allowed to enter Kenan Memorial Stadium on Oct. 10 for the football team’s home game against Virginia Tech has prompted questions about how to safely implement fan attendance.
This followed North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s decision that any outdoor venue that seats over 10,000 people could reopen at 7 percent capacity, effective Oct. 2 — the same day Phase 2.5 of the state’s COVID-19 protocols are set to expire.
By admitting fans, the athletic department will hope to offset the predicted financial difficulties brought on by the continuing pandemic. In a press release from August, Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham said the department was facing a potential $15 million loss in ticket revenues and a $30-52 million loss overall. However, there are still questions about how safe a reopening really is.
John Brunner, an associate athletic director for event management at UNC, said policies such as masks, social distancing, sanitizing stations, staggered entrances and cashless concessions will be implemented to prioritize safety above everything. He also said people found to be in continued violation of COVID-19 protocols can be removed from the stadium.
“People are used to games, so there will be challenges for sure,” Brunner said. “We're hopeful that our fans are grateful for the fact that they can come in once again, and we’re grateful that we can actually have them come. So we need everyone to buy in."