Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer, along with Chancellor Donde Plowman were in attendance for Governor Bill Lee’s press conference Tuesday in Nashville, to discuss the upcoming season and Neyland Stadium’s protocols.
While speaking, Fulmer talked about fan capacity for home games that are scheduled for the upcoming 2020 season. “We’re anticipating somewhere around the 25 percent mark,” Fulmer said. “We hope to be able to achieve that.” Since we are still in August, I would expect that number will be flexible.
Since the SEC is allowing each individual school to setup their own protocols, while working with their local health departments, so each school will be different, in some manner. Today it was announced by the University of Alabama that they will only have a 20 percent capacity, while Texas A&M is shooting for 30 percent capacity.
Fulmer added that “I have loved being the athletic director for the first two and half years, I have not loved the last four to five months,” discussing the difficult decisions and uncertainty around SEC athletics.
When discussing the upcoming home games, Fulmer said “obviously facial coverings will be required, health screenings for our employees, vendors and contractors along the way.”
While discussing the ways to keep fans safe at the stadium, besides ticket-less entry, he added, “zone entries so that we can get people to seats in a more convenient way so we’re not crossing paths with lots of people, plexiglass at concessions, cleaning efforts, we actually have a stadium cleaning team established for the ballgames.”
The Tennessee Football Twitter account sent this tweet out earlier Tuesday, informing season ticket holders to pay attention to their email accounts on Thursday. This is when information will be sent out regarding how to obtain tickets for upcoming games, if you qualify:
ATTENTION 2020 TICKET HOLDERS: pic.twitter.com/6Pc4bvF9nO
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) August 18, 2020
“We’re looking at different aspects that go along with Southeastern Conference football, tailgating, certainly band protocols. Anyway that we can we need to avoid large gatherings, so we’re looking at those as we go along. My take on it is that we probably wont have those” Fulmer added, when discussing how to keep fans safe outside and inside Neyland Stadium.
Fulmer also touched on the Vol Walk and Pride Of the Southland Marching Band walk into the stadium: “It could very well be unsafe for everybody, so again we’re kind of making the decision that we will probably not have those.”
Just this week, Arkansas announced that their band would not be performing on the field pre-game, so their players would not be running “Through The A,” a tradition for the Razorbacks.
In regards to financial impact, Fulmer stated there could be a $30-40 Million dollar loss because of social distancing, lack of ticket sales and more. “We’ve been very proactive in the cost-cutting measures since last spring, we made 20 percent cuts in our budgets all across the athletic department, hiring freeze and we know there are more things coming from the academic side of campus.”
This is certainly a very big deal for universities across the country, as we will see huge revenue losses across each conference, which could effect other sports and campus expenses. There’s really no other way to put it: this will hurt a lot of schools.
The atmosphere around college football will look completely different this season, which is unfortunate. But, if this is what it takes so football can be played starting Sept. 26, then everyone will have to roll with the punches.
We have to get there first, and we have a long way to go.