Chandler to limit fall sports fans’ numbers - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler to limit fall sports fans’ numbers

September 24th, 2020 SanTan Sun News
Chandler to limit fall sports fans’ numbers

By Zach Alvira
Sports Editor

Attending a fall high school sporting event will be a different experience than in years past for Chandler Unified and other fans due to the pandemic.

Many school districts are limiting the number of tickets sold to a household and the public. Other measures, such as the use of masks and social distancing, have also been put in place to ensure a safe environment.

But protocols still change frequently.

“Everything is ongoing,” said Steve Hogan, the Mesa Public Schools district athletic director. “I still meet with our athletic directors about this. Things are always changing.”

Chandler Unified School District is limiting capacity to 25 percent for football, volleyball and swimming competitions.

Four tickets will be available for football, cheer, pom and marching band participants, while only two will be available for volleyball. Parents will have an opportunity to purchase tickets between Saturday at 8 a.m. and Sunday at 10 p.m. before they go on sale to the general public at 8 a.m. on Monday.

Students will be able to purchase tickets starting 8 a.m. Monday if the 25 percent limit has not been reached.

Chandler senior running back Eli Sanders said while the energy will be different, it’s something he believes his team will be able to adjust to.

“The energy in the stadium will be different but I don’t see it being a challenge to adjust to,” Sanders said. “We’re still going out there with a purpose to win and play fast and hard.

“I’m just excited in these uncertain times that we are guarantee a football game. I’m just blessed to be in this situation.”

Hogan, along with other district leadership, received guidance from health officials to determine how Mesa schools would allow fans to attend volleyball and football games – the two fall sports with the largest attendance.

Families will be allowed to purchase four tickets per athlete. Once inside the gym or stadium, fans will see taped-off areas to allow for adequate social distancing. Families must remain in a group and sit 6 feet apart from others. Masks are required at all times.

Hogan said after fall break the week of Oct. 5-9, he and district leadership will reevaluate and follow guidelines from officials.

Hogan said it’s possible they may allow an increase in the number of spectators but also want to ensure the environment remains safe for all involved.

“We want to open it up to as many as we can as long as it is safe,” Hogan said. “Our hope is that after fall break, we will have this strategy down, we will know if people are complying and the opportunities we have. Then hopefully we can open it up.”

Mesa plans to offer electronic tickets, which can be purchased through the GoFan app. It’s a solution several other districts have also adopted.

Concessions will be closed the first two games of the season at Red Mountain and the band will not be present.

It’ll make for a much different atmosphere, according to senior quarterback Evan Svoboda.

“The games will feel more like a scrimmage without the enthusiasm and passion of the fans cheering,” Svoboda said. “It will be a surreal experience, but it may also allow us to concentrate on the plays more effectively.

“I will miss the instant gratification of the fans cheering loudly for big plays.”

Higley was the first district to announce its plans for fans to attend fall sporting events.

But unlike others, the district decided not to limit the number of fans that can attend. The only limitation is for an athlete’s household, which is set at four like Mesa.

Gilbert Public Schools will allow only 25 percent capacity in its stadiums and gyms. All tickets will be sold online with each athlete allowed to reserve two.

Visiting teams can also reserve two tickets per athlete via a private link each school will provide.

General admission tickets will be available online 48 hours before the start of the event as long as capacity has not been reached. When it is, tickets will no longer be sold.   

The lesser capacity will be a major decrease at schools like Highland, where it is common to see at least a few thousand fans at football games each week.

Often especially in recent years as the Hawks have competed for a playoff spot, it’s limited to standing room only.

“Playing in front of large crowds definitely gives the team an advantage,” Highland junior quarterback Gage Dayley said, “and especially the student section, it gets it to another level.

“I’m going to miss getting to play in front of them and the energy they bring to the games.”

Beyond what will undoubtedly be a quieter atmosphere for kickoff on Friday nights is the potential loss of revenue for programs throughout the year since concession sales help booster clubs.