Timothy Belin, Campus Carrier sports editor
After the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) announced its policy on fan attendance of sporting events on Jan. 8, Berry has now released further information on the matter. While the SAA’s guidelines merely restricted access to students, faculty and staff already part of the campus community, Berry announced in its weekly newsletter that basketball games will currently be limited to 200 seats, with tickets available for pick-up in Krannert.
Director of athletics Angel Mason said this number is the result of careful consideration based on the Cage Athletic Center’s available space and the people who will need access to it.
“We will only go to thirty percent of capacity of the Cage Arena,” Mason said. “That thirty percent has to include every physical body that is using the facility, which includes the athletes, the officials, the coaches, the game-day personnel, the sports medicine professionals, so on and so forth. So that will allow for us to have two hundred tickets for students to be able to pick up at Krannert.”
Because this number is based on the specific facility, events held at Berry’s other venues, such at Valhalla Stadium or Bob Pearson Field, will have different allocation limits. Ticket numbers for those facilities will be announced in due course, once they begin hosting events.
Mason said that in addition to ticket limitations, the department implemented several other measures to create the safest environment for fans and players alike.
“There will be one rotation that you can walk around the facility in order to minimize the gathering and crossing of one another,” Mason said. “We will have some seats marked off. We will also have the entire lower rows in every section that will be chained off that they cannot come beyond, because we are trying to separate the student athletes from the rest of the general population.”
Mason also stressed that cooperation from those attending would be vital in order for fan attendance to remain possible.
“We really look forward to being able to support our students, being able to engage around sports, and we’re really just asking those that have the opportunity to get tickets and to attend games that they keep in mind what their small grouping is, not gather in bunches and please respect the separations that we’ve provided,” Mason said. “You may have three people that you’ve defined as being in your social circle and you decide to sit together in one of the spaces. But we ask that you and three other social circles don’t gather in one large bunching together, kind of respect the taping off that we have lined up in the facility.”
As with most COVID-19 protocol, Mason said these guidelines will be under constant review, with changes dependent on potential improvements or outbreaks in the community, for both Berry and other SAA schools.
“We’ll be looking at the positive case rate on our different campuses and what’s taking place there to determine if we will stay where we are currently or if we will open up more,” Mason said. “It’s to be reviewed regularly as of right now, but the decision that’s been made is through the end of the month.”
For fans who are unable to attend due to the limited ticket numbers, alternative viewing methods will be made available. A livestream will be provided for every game, located in each team’s individual schedule section on the Berry Athletics website, and a full replay will also be uploaded to the website after every game.
Mason said the purchase of the necessary equipment for this project was made possible by a recent crowdfunding effort. Though not all the desired money was raised, Mason said she is confident the department will still be able to cover every Berry sporting event.
“We didn’t make every dollar that we needed, but we did have a bunch of individuals that were generous donors to help us make this happen,” Mason said. “So it was a great starting point, and we’re going to continue to fill in and find different venues to make that happen so that each of our sporting events is live streamed.”
The first four games open to fan attendance will be hosted in the Cage this weekend, starting with men’s basketball’s game against Hendrix College at 6 p.m. on Friday. Tickets are currently available at the Krannert Information Desk while supplies last.