The University of Idaho announced Wednesday that 2020 home games at the Kibbie Dome will be limited to 5,100 fans — all of whom must wear face masks — to “maintain healthy operations” during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a release from the school.
“Given our fans are traveling up from Boise and the Magic Valley, and driving over from Seattle and Portland, as well as coming down from Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, we did not make these decisions lightly,” UI athletic director Terry Gawlik said. “Adjusting the capacity for the Kibbie Dome is just one of the many steps we’ve taken in an effort to help provide a safe gameday environment for everyone involved.”
All tickets sold will be reserved seating. UI’s ticket office has altered its seating chart to reflect availability. Some season-ticket seats will be changed to allow for physical distancing.
Per the release, season ticket holders will be given the option to carry over their tickets and RV parking permits to the next season, should COVID-19 further impact the football season. Refunds will be given, or the money can be donated to the Vandal Scholarship Fund.
“(UI) is working closely with public health officials to provide fans the opportunity to cheer on the Vandals while being conscious of the realities surrounding COVID-19,” Idaho president Scott Green said. “I want to thank Vandal Athletics and events staff for their work making the necessary adjustments so we can host events while meeting the required protocols.”
Purchasing season tickets is the “only surefire way to guarantee attendance at Vandal home games,” the release reads. Questions can be directed to UI’s ticket office, at (208) 885-6466.
During the 2019 season, UI’s football team averaged 6,885 fans per home game. The Vandals garnered a season-best crowd of 10,361 for homecoming vs. Idaho State, and a season-low of 5,905 in the home opener against Central Washington.
“While we remain ready for the regular season to begin on Sept. 5 the most recent announcements by other conferences have challenged us,” Gawlik said. “We’ll continue to work with the Big Sky Conference to be strategic in our planning for the upcoming season.”
Because of the Pac-12 Conference’s decision last week to play conference-only games, Idaho already has lost its contest against Washington State, scheduled to be played Sept. 19 at Pullman.
According to a “force majeure” clause in the game contract obtained by the Tribune, the contract is now void because of “an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties which prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under this contract ...”
By all appearances, that means UI will lose out on the $550,000 payday it was set to get from playing the Cougars.