While it is starting to seem clear we will not likely have football this fall, the Michigan State Spartans did release their tentative plans for season ticket holders this fall if there is football. You can read the full release here, but I try my best below to give you a good break down of the initial planning before taking a look around the rest of the conference.
It seems unlikely tailgating will be allowed given the issues of crowds and staffing requirements. While the press release did not say as much, don’t expect a sunny Saturday afternoon at the tennis courts to be your pre-game option if you are lucky enough to attend a game this fall.
Premium seating in the Huntington Club and Sideline Club will be reduced correspondingly with overall capacity cuts, so even the well financed fan will be suffering along with the freshly graduated guy who decided to get his/her first season tickets ever up in the upper corner of the nosebleeds. The suites being fully enclosed likely won’t be affected as much other than maybe limiting the number of business customers you get to invite to watch the game with you.
As for the general public seats, the model seems to be that of dividing sections into three zones and treating where you sit within the zone as first come, first serve with self-enforced social distancing. I will editorialize here that the way Spartan Stadium divides the sections down the middle of seating rather than by the natural divide of stairs might make this model a bit more difficult to enforce.
However, it is a straight forward and practical way to try and deal with capacity limitations in the face of varying family/group ticket sizes. Priority for who gets to attend games, and which games those are, will be based on standards not expressed in the release. Obviously you can expect number of years as a ticket holder and your donation level to affect it. You might also get moved closer to center field, or further away from it than where your normal season tickets would be located.
There is no official timeline yet for when we can expect the full details on how fans will be allowed to attend games, if at all, for the season. However, many athletic department officials have made clear they expect a decision on whether a season can even take place or not to be decided in the new few weeks.
If you happen to be a season ticket holder who has already made a deposit, or even paid in full, but you do not feel comfortable attending games this fall or are unhappy with only a partial game plan, what are your options? MSU has also provided three alternatives for you. Fans can either convert their payments to a charitable donation, roll over 2020 payments into the 2021 season, or request a refund. Tickets and seat locations will be released for 2020, but still held for you in 2021.
Around the Big Ten
A quick (but by no means exhaustive) survey of fellow Big Ten athletic department websites shows MSU has the most detailed plan as of yet. Penn State and Ohio State do not have any details yet on their website about possible plans for reduced fans this fall.
Michigan does not, either, though they have offered to refund season ticket packages in full for anyone who does not feel comfortable attending games this fall. Minnesota similarly has a policy in place on their website where fans may either convert their season ticket package to a charitable donation to Gopher Athletics, or apply it to the 2021-2022 season while getting no fan loyalty points for the 2020 season nor offering a refund.
Iowa has paused season ticket sales, and Nebraska’s AD Bill Moos has made public statements that they are evaluating options and will likely try to incorporate seniority of donor status regarding availability of tickets.
While Michigan State does not have a finalized plan, their public release for initial ideas of how to organize seating in a limited capacity format seems to be the most detailed public statement among the Big Ten as of yet.