FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas is set to begin the 2020 football season on Saturday, Sept. 5, in Reynolds Razorback Stadium against Nevada.
Arkansas’ Vice-Chancellor and Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek was asked Wednesday about the plans as far as fans attending the game.
“I will tell you that our number one priority right now is, in what we’re preparing for, is to have full capacity in each of our athletic venues this fall,” Yurachek said. “What I will tell you is that we also have plans in the background, preparations in the background that are being made if we have to limit capacity — whatever that may look like — in any of our venues.
“We have sold approximately 31,000 season tickets for football. We have stopped selling any single-game tickets for home or away games until we really figure out what that looks like definitively because we don’t want to sell thousands of single-game tickets to our SEC games and then have to refund that money or decide which of those patrons cannot attend the games. And so, that’s probably the only measure we have taken to date until we really determine what that capacity looks like.”
How the fans who are allowed to attend the game will enter is still being discussed.
“We’re taking a look at from the minute you arrive on campus,” Yurachek said. “We shuttle roughly 10,000 fans per football game from outlying lots to our stadium. And so, what does that look like from a shuttle bus capacity? And then how do we queue people in line when they arrive at the gate. Do we have, just go to straight electronic ticket where there’s not a paper ticket that you provide. How we queue you in line for concessions? I think it’s unrealistic to think we can, especially in the hot September, that we can take a temperature of a fan that may have walked a few 100 yards to get to the stadium and that be an adequate reflection of whether or whether or not they may exhibit a symptom, so I think that’s highly unlikely.”
Yurachek was asked a deadline for when it could be determined how many fans will be allowed in attendance?
“I think we’re going to have some flexibility with that piece,” Yurachek said. “Obviously we’ve got to allow people to make plans so let’s say if we had a limited capacity and it is less than the 31,000 season tickets that we’ve sold, we’re going to have to have some type of system where we allow a certain number of those 31,000 season ticket holders into the venue on Sept. 5. I think you’ve got to give a couple of weeks notice. We don’t have a definitive date, Bobby, ironed out, but I think you’ve got to have some decisions made in the early part of August in regards to that.”
The 31,000 tickets sold is in addition to the students.
“That does not include student season tickets,” Yurachek said. “We generally start that student pass campaign in August when our students return to campus. So, I think we’ll have a pretty gauge on what that looks like. What the attendance looks like and what the capacity could look by the time we get around to selling the student passes. So, that number does not include those passes. Obviously, if our students are on campus, which they are expected to be this fall, we will make accommodations to have a certain number of students at our athletic venues to support our student athletes.”
Following Nevada, Arkansas will travel to Notre Dame for the Sept. 12 game. Yurachek was asked about contact with those two schools?
“I think much like what we’re going through on our campus,” Yurachek said. “Nevada’s planning to be here on Sept. 5 and we’re planning to be at Notre Dame on Sept. 12. Whether there’s limited capacity at any of those venues, it still remains to be seen but we’re all still planning to have those games.”
Yurachek also talked about the best-case scenario for starting fall camp given all the obstacles.
“Well I think best-case scenario is we have some type of work that happens with our coaches and instruction with our coaches in mid-July that leads into the start of fall camp, which was originally scheduled for Aug. 4 or 5,” Yurachek said. “So coaches have some access to work with these young men in mid-July and that bleeds into what the original date to start fall camp was.”
While the athletes are slated to return on June 8, there’s still a lot of questions to be answered.