Monongalia County’s shift to green on the county alert map has given football fans the green light to watch the Mountaineers in person this fall, according to a WVU Athletics administrator.
WVU Athletics announced Monday that it will allow up to 15,000 fans — roughly 25 percent of Milan Puskar Stadium’s capacity — to attend the Oct. 17 home game against Kansas. This decision comes after WVU played its Sept. 12 home opener in front of fewer than 1,000 people — a crowd made up of essential game day personnel and families of student-athletes and staff members.
WVU senior associate athletic director Matt Wells tells Gold and Blue Nation that the decrease in COVID-19 cases within the county, along with WVU’s return to in-person learning Monday, prompted the athletic department to change its pandemic attendance policy for home football games.
“You heard a lot of questions — this school can have fans, that school can have fans — well, it’s really not about what everyone else is doing. It was about what were the conditions here, and what did those conditions allow us to do or prevent us from doing,” Wells said. “The improvement that we’ve seen in the positivity rate, in the incidence rate, I think the ramping up of testing certainly has helped. We’ve gotten numbers into a good place.”
WVU will only permit families and essential game day personnel inside the stadium for Saturday’s game against Baylor. Wells said previously that the athletic department made that decision two weeks in advance for logistical reasons.
But after making two disappointing decisions regarding fan attendance this season, Wells said that after months of planning, the athletic department staff is thrilled to give fans the opportunity to safely enjoy a football game in person.
“This was an important day for all of us, something we as an athletic department have been working toward for months,” Wells said.
Approximately 15,000 fans attended West Virginia’s Big 12 opener against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Oklahoma. A similar number of fans will be admitted to the Mountaineers’ upcoming contests against the Jayhawks. Wells said that particular capacity cap will allow fans to remain physically distant while sitting in the stands.
Wells noted that the intent is allow 25 percent attendance for West Virginia’s final three home football games after the Kansas game. It’s unlikely that capacity cap will rise, he said, but restrictions could be tightened if case numbers surge on campus or in the community.
“We can’t let our guard down,” Wells said. “We’ve got to continue those efforts to keep these numbers in a good spot.”
An online request form will become available to Mountaineer Athletic Club members and priority season ticket holders Tuesday. Wells said more ticket information will be made available soon, and that tickets could be sold to the general public the week of the game.
He added that WVU students will also be able to request tickets for the Kansas game, and that more information will be provided to students the week of the game.