BLACKSBURG — The number of fans, if any, that will be allowed into Lane Stadium for Virginia Tech’s football home opener with Virginia on Sept. 19 is still in question.
The answer to questions about pregame has been given.
Leave the koozies and cornhole boards at home.
Tech, in conjunction with the Town of Blacksburg, announced Tuesday that tailgating will be prohibited this season in university and town parking lots, and public spaces for all sports.
University police will monitor all of the school’s parking lots on game days and will be prepared to enforce the rule if any individuals don’t comply.
“Football weekends and tailgate gatherings are cherished traditions for Virginia Tech and our community,” Tech President Tim Sands said in a release sent out on Tuesday morning. “I appreciate the input and support of athletic director Whit Babcock and community leaders as we came to this difficult conclusion. Though it is disappointing for all of us as we look forward to fall football, protecting public health remains our primary goal, and the foundation of the decisions we make.”
Tech is currently scheduled to have six home games this season. One of those — what originally represented the home opener on Sept. 12 against North Carolina State — was already pushed back two weeks to Sept. 26, due to coronavirus-related problems the Raleigh school experienced.
Blacksburg officials announced they will enforce ordinances within the town limits on game days to limit large gatherings of people, as well as promote social distancing and mask wearing.
“It’s so important for the town and the university to work together on this because we both want to protect our communities,” Blacksburg Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith was quoted in the same release. “Game days are special to our community, too, and we look forward to the time when we can come together again and enjoy Hokie football together. However, the pandemic requires us to make different, difficult decisions to preserve public health.”
The recent COVID-19 numbers in the area likely factored into the decision. Sands released a separate statement on Tuesday addressing the 157 positive cases the university reported on Monday (15.5% positivity rate), bringing the overall total to 178.
He said in the letter released on Virginia Tech’s news website that “the report was not unexpected” given the influx of students to campus in recent weeks, but cautioned that the university is ready to make changes “should the number of new cases not stabilize and decline,” which could include scaling back university operations.
Meanwhile, the waiting game continues on how many spectators will be welcomed into Lane Stadium on opening day.
If the current state guidelines are not modified — attendance for outdoor events in Virginia is limited to 1,000 people — Tech has announced admission would be limited to “families of our student-athletes, the coaches, and the visiting team.”
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