USF to allow fans into basketball games

USF Athletics has announced that a limited number of fans will be allowed to attend men and women’s conference basketball games for the remainder of the season. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

USF Athletics announced Monday that fans will be allowed to attend men’s and women’s basketball games for the remainder of the season under a limited capacity. The announcement comes after both teams played the first several weeks of their respective seasons in empty arenas due to the novel coronavirus. 

Despite COVID-19 cases surging at record rates across the nation in recent weeks, Bulls fans will be welcomed back to the Yuengling Center just in time for conference play. The first game with fan attendance is set for Dec. 19 when the women’s team faces Houston. Fans will be able to catch the men’s team in action Dec. 22 when the Bulls welcome Wichita State to town. 

This will be the first time fans are able to see either team play in person at the Yuengling Center since March 7 when former USF star Laquincy Rideau hit a buzzer beater to beat SMU in the final regular season game of the year. 

USF will join the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas as one of the few programs in the country to allow fans in their arena.

“We are excited to have the opportunity for a limited number of fans to see our exciting men’s and women’s basketball teams compete in person when the conference seasons begin,” USF Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly said. 

Although fans will be allowed to attend games, it will look significantly different than years past in order to implement all the necessary precautions to prevent a potential outbreak and keep all parties safe.

For starters, admission to games will be restricted to approximately 1,200 total seats. This is much less than the Yuengling Center’s full capacity of 10,411 seats. Fans will also be seated in pods ranging in size from two to four people in order to practice physical distancing. No one will be allowed to sit in the 100-level seating behind team benches or court-side. 

In addition to all of those precautions, USF will implement numerous hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations throughout the arena, six-foot physically distant line queues as well as cashless transactions. Upon entering the arena, fans will be required to wear face masks at all times.

As the season goes on, university officials will keep their eye on the situation regarding the pandemic when they make decisions concerning fan attendance at games.

“We will continue to closely monitor the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and consult local, state and university health officials in regards to attendance as the season progresses,” Kelly said.

In terms of tickets, all men’s and women’s game tickets will be sold on a single-game basis, with season ticket holders and Bulls club members receiving priority access not only to tickets but to seats as well. 

Fans will be able to purchase their tickets through the USF Bulls app as the university has transitioned to mobile-only ticketing.