Ames, Iowa — Iowa State University students say they understand the decision to keep fans away from Jack Trice Stadium next weekend, but that doesn’t mean they like it.
On Wednesday the school announced that the September 12th home opener football game will be played in Ames without fans in the stands. That’s an abrupt change from two days earlier when the school announced that 25,000 socially distanced fans would be allowed.
Ames is currently one of the top “red zones” for new COVID-19 cases in the nation. A New York Times analysis shows Ames has the second most new cases per capita in the nation right now. Only Muskogee, Oklahoma – which is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak in a prison – has a worse rate over the last two weeks.
ISU students say they are conflicted about the news. Sophomore Peter Graham says the news was not unexpected. “Well, I was kind of surprised but not really. I guess I was sort of expecting that because everything I’ve seen on the news,” Graham says.
Others question the decision. ISU Freshman Mariah Steenhard thought the school’s socially distanced seating plan announced Monday made perfect sense. “I don’t know about the right move because I feel you’re still social distance with 25,000 people just like group together with your family and like that stuff,” said Steenhard. “I hope they can come up with a plan to let people in hopefully to get some students and then that would be great, too.”
Some question whether moving fans out of the stands will actually make the COVID-19 situation worse by encouraging unregulated watch parties at dorms, apartments and houses around Ames. The university has already warned students that if they are found to be not following socially distancing guidelines off-campus they could face consequences from the school.
Iowa State plays Louisiana-Lafayette at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 12th. That date was supposed to be the Cy-Hawk football game in Iowa City before the Big Ten canceled inter-conference games and then the entire football season.