One of the questions that has gone unanswered for many months has been how many fans can be expected at LSU football games in the fall? It's been something on the backs of most season ticket holders and average Joe's mind since the the COVID-19 pandemic severely hindered social gatherings.
On Friday, during an interview with ESPN 104.5 radio show Hangin' with Hester and Hanny, Executive Deputy Athletic Director Verge Ausberry said the number of fans that will be allowed inside Tiger Stadium in the fall hinges on which Phase of reopening the state is in. Currently, the state is in "Phase Two" of its reopening efforts which, the Advocate reports would allow Tiger Stadium to operate at 50% capacity.
However if the state were to move into "Phase Three" sometime in the coming weeks or months, Ausberry said that Tiger Stadium would be allowed to reopen at 75% capacity this fall. That means that the school could be aiming for anywhere from 50,000-77,000 fans in the stands at this time.
Ausberry later told the Advocate that there isn't a firm number on how many fans would be allowed because "occupancy numbers can change with different areas of the stadium."
The news comes on the heels of LSU Athletics releasing its intended plans for how tickets will be distributed. The school announced on Friday that tickets will be prioritized to season-ticket holders and students. As far as seat allocation and distribution of tickets, the athletic department says those decisions will be made when it's clear just how many fans will be allowed in the stands.
"In order to decide how we are going to distribute tickets and to whom, we need to know our capacity first," said Associate Athletic Director of Ticket Operations Brian Broussard. "Once we know that and our final schedule, we can finalize our plans. We'll keep our ticket holders up to date along the way."
While the athletic department is aiming high in regards to expected fans in attendance, it's also important to note what other schools are doing. Ohio State and Illinois have made plans to open at 20% capacity, far lower than LSU's 50% or potentially 75%.
LSU athletic director Scott Woodward sent an email to all season-ticket holders on Thursday evening confirming that seating would be prioritized while also stressing safety to those who do wish to attend the games.
"We’re excited to welcome everyone back to Tiger Stadium in September and we will be in touch with you soon with more details on this plan," Wodward said via an obtained copy by the Advocate. "I want to also stress safety for all of us. If you have a preexisting condition, feel sick, or have other safety concerns for you or your family, we want you to stay home and watch the games on television."