UT Austin kicks off new football season with big changes for fans

The first Longhorn soccer game of 2020 is only a month away. In anticipation of its release, Texas Athletics has released new guidelines for the upcoming season.

One of the biggest changes in this time of social distancing is how many people will be in attendance. With a capacity of more than 100,000, the DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium is one of the largest sports venues and it is still uncertain whether it will be 50 or 25 percent full when the Longhorns are on the field for their first game on September 5th .

In his autumn planning update published July 29, Jay Hartzell, interim president of UT, said the school had “investigated a number of scenarios that affect audience participation in upcoming soccer games.” At the behest of the Board of Regents, the possibility of hosting games with a capacity of 25 percent is also shown.

“As prices continue to drop in Austin and across Texas, we must be agile and work consistently to develop strategies to protect the safety of our student athletes, coaches, staff, students, and anyone who visits our campus for sporting events.” Hartzell said in the update. “As we near the start of the football season, we will closely monitor the spread of COVID-19 and make final decisions in the coming weeks based on instructions from our Council of Regency and state health officials.”

Whichever capacity they choose, attending a soccer game this year will look different, starting with the tickets. For 2020 all tickets will be digital and all transactions within the stadium will be processed with credit or debit cards (no cash). In accordance with school policy, UT only allows clear bags into the stadium. All non-plastic wallets, purses, and clutches must be less than 4.5 “by 6.5”.

Fans must also enter the assigned goal on their cell phone ticket and practice social distancing inside, washing hands frequently, using hand sanitizer, and wearing face coverings during the game. Staff will wear face masks and concession booth staff will put on masks and gloves and some will stand behind plexiglass according to the new guidelines.

Texas Athletics has also installed hand sanitizing stations (side note: UT now also has an “Official Hand Sanitizer Vendor”) and says it will continue to sanitize high-touch areas as well as point of sale, restrooms, bag checkpoints, and other public areas.

While in the stadium, participants must sit in groups of less than 10 people and maintain social distancing practices. And as mentioned before, unless you eat or drink, fans have to wear masks for the duration of the game.

And if someone feels sick or is in contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, please stay home.

Tailgating is also not immune to the new regulations. Party-goers must “adhere to all local and state COVID-19 safety requirements in effect at the time of the tailgate”.

“Our priority is to create the safest match day environment for our student athletes, coaches, match officers, fans, staff and visiting teams,” said Chris Del Conte, UT director of athletics, in a press release. “Whether you are with us on game day or deal with us from afar, your support is the lifeblood of our program. Game days at the DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium are one of the most revered traditions in university sports, and we can’t wait until the believers from Burnt Orange and White cheer our teams this fall. “

A comprehensive list of the new guidelines can be found here.

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