The University of Colorado sent an email to season-ticket holders Wednesday morning that said that Folsom Field is “planning to welcome fans” during the 2020 college football season. This story was first reported by Henry Chisholm of DNVR.
As part of this welcoming of fans, the university claims that fans will be expected to wear masks, seating will be limited and spaced apart, and social distancing will be practiced in lines for tickets and concessions.
This announcement comes as a surprise considering not none of the major American sports have even considered bringing back fans. The Korean Baseball Organization began welcoming a limited number of fans into stadiums in late July, but South Korea flattened the curve early and effectively, and their daily case count has been on the decline since February 29th. As of this writing, there are 43 daily confirmed cases in all of South Korea; for comparison, Boulder County is at 17 daily cases as of August 1st, and Colorado had a 3-day rolling average of 435 daily cases as of July 16th.
The university still plans to have classes on campus and they’re still welcoming freshmen students into dorms. The student-athletes will not be isolated from the rest of the student body, which is particularly concerning because their classmates are unlikely to practice strict social distancing. (Parties were raging on the Hill during the height of the pandemic, so good luck keeping that in check.)
Having fans in the stands does not seem to pose additional risk to players, insofar as there’s no contact, directly or indirectly, with the coaches or players. But fans will be exposing other fans, and even if all parties are there willingly, it’s a public safety hazard. While Folsom Field is certainly a better option than the CU Events Center, fans will still be coming across the state to attend, conversing with each other and screaming during the game. Fans don’t need to be in the stands to make these games happen; instead, it seems the university is prioritizing ticket revenue despite a potential safety risk for those attending.
Of course, this could all be irrelevant. The university qualified this announcement by saying fans will be welcomed back as long as “public health conditions allow”. There are no specifics about what that means, but if Boulder and the surrounding area sees a spike in coronavirus cases, the university would most likely cancel attendance.