Clemson will have fans in Memorial Stadium this football season.
Death Valley won’t be full as usual, only about one-fourth capacity when the preseason No. 1 Tigers have their home opener Sept. 19 against The Citadel. But considering the alternatives, two of the Power Five conferences have elected to not even play this season and fellow ACC team Duke will start play in an empty home stadium, some fans are better than none.
“That’s huge,” Clemson defensive back Andrew Booth said Thursday after practice and only about an hour or so after the official announcement. “We thought it was just going to be us out there. To be able to have just that amount of people is a huge blessing. (Otherwise), it just would feel like we were out there doing scrimmages. This is going to be beautiful.”
A view of Clemson Memorial Stadium on the campus of Clemson University on June 10, 2020. (Photo: Maddie Meyer, Getty Images)
Clemson announced Thursday afternoon it would have only about 19,000 fans in a facility that can hold more than 81,000. Fans will be seated primarily in groups of two or four throughout the stadium. Tailgating is discouraged and masks will be mandatory for those not eating or drinking.
Special permission for large groups has been granted to Clemson from Gov. Henry McMaster, the South Carolina Department of Commerce and also the Department of Health and Environmental Control as to how to deal with COVID-19 coronavirus protocol.
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“We are thankful … for our plan to host fans in our venues this fall,” said Dan Radakovich, Clemson’s director of athletics, in a news release. “Our IPTAY and athletic staff have worked tirelessly and taken a comprehensive look at the game-day experience.
“Clemson sought input from external medical, public health and facility planning experts during the process, as well as the University Strategic Operations Group. With the information available today, we are confident in our ability to safely allow fans at games, which is incredibly important to our student-athletes, coaches, fans and local community. We’ll continue to monitor guidance and make adjustments if necessary.”
Clemson will first reach out to donors who decided not to opt-out this season. More details will be released in a 10 a.m. Friday news conference.
“I just learned that news walking up here,” Clemson long-snapper Jack Maddox said after practice. “Obviously that’s great news. I mean I kind of went into the season expecting, hopefully, my mom could come down. But having the ability to have 19,000 there is awesome. We’ll take as much as we can get. This team knows that the environment is going to be different, but the game doesn’t change. We’re preparing like we always do. It’s great news that we get to play in front of some people and we’re excited for that.”
Clemson athletics and the IPTAY booster group will be reaching out to donors, according to the release, to determine who did not choose and opt-out, a so-called “redshirt season,” for premium ticket holders, and move on from there.
As part of the new seating plan, fans will be divided into pods of two or four participants, spread out in Memorial Stadium while wearing masks except for when taking bites of food of sips of a drink.
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