In the months leading up to a welcomed college football season, Alabama’s devoted fan base are proving to be among the most dedicated in the country. According to AL.com, 90 percent of Alabama football season ticket holders have renewed their packages for the 2020 season.
Despite overwhelming fan loyalty, this upcoming season faces the real possibility that not every fan may be in the stadium during games, as schools throughout the country are strategizing ways to keep athletes, personnel and fans safe and healthy.
“If for some reason there is the need to incorporate social distancing at Bryant-Denny Stadium and greatly reduce capacity this fall, we would have to create some type of system that would give hopefully as many people as possible the opportunity to be here and be a part of it,” the university said in a statement to AL.com. “This has been one of our objectives as we are working through potential strategies. There are some different models we have started looking at, however our hope is not to have to use those models.”
Alabama could possibly adopt Iowa State’s 2020 plan, which only allows 50 percent of its football stadium to be full and therefore leaving much of the available seats open to season ticket holders and students. If Alabama football fans can’t all be accommodated, there is a stark divide in response.
“If they let a select few in, I’m cool with that,” ten-year season ticket holder Josh Taylor told AL.com. “If I get squeezed out, I’m cool with that as long as I still have my spot and I get some kind of refund.”
Taylor and fellow season ticket owner Maggie Browning have expressed that they would sit out this season if need be, but don’t want to forfeit their memberships and be placed on a waiting list instead. Mississippi resident Nancy McDill views attending games as a way to “take our lives back” and seemed open to wearing a mask in the stadium if need be.
“I can’t imagine sitting in 105-degree heat with the heat index with a mask on,” said Jeff Allman, a 28-year season ticket holder. “I think I’d be touching my face more with a mask on than I would even think about not having a mask on. That would be miserable. Now if we’re talking a November game where the weather is 65 or 60 degrees and a mask is required, I wouldn’t have an overwhelming issue on that although I would not want to be required to wear a mask.”
University officials are yet to announce any official policies for Alabama football fans. However, a phased-plan is in the works for student-athletes to return to campus. That plan asks for students and faculty to stick to conference and NCAA regulations as well as undergo COVID-19 testing to for clearance to participate in sports.
Alabama is set to kick off the 2020 season September 5 against USC in Texas, with its home opener scheduled a week later against Georgia State.