As Huntsville City Schools prepares for its first football games of the year, it is also taking numerous steps to ensure players and fans are as safe as possible when it comes to game time.
From encouraging online ticket purchasing to frequently cleaning the bathrooms, HCS is putting multiple measures in place prior to and during the games.
HCS Athletics Coordinator Scott Stapler said on Wednesday that while staff, players and coaches will have a temperature check before they come in, they are relying on fans to self-screen before coming to the stadium.
“We really want people to make sure that when they come to the stadium that obviously there aren’t any symptoms, that they feel good. We’re not going to be checking the fans as they come in for the symptoms and things like that,” Stapler said.
On Thursday, Huntsville High School will host Birmingham’s Spain Park High School for their season opener.
Head coach Mark Fleetwood said it helps to know that everyone is in the same boat as far as added precautions for the season.
“So really, it's an even playing field here. Let's try to do it better than anybody else. And that's sort of been the way that we've talked as a team,” Fleetwood said.
He noted that much of what happens on the field will remain the same, but he’s pushing his team to keep safety guidelines in mind when they’re on the sidelines and at home.
“Just being really mindful of that is to know where we go when we're away from the practice field is really important. Who you're hanging with, where they've been, who they've been with,” Fleetwood said.
For any game at Milton Frank Stadium, a maximum of 4,000 tickets will be sold. That’s less than half of the stadium's full capacity.
Stapler also encourages football fans to buy their tickets online through the platform GoFan, but noted that there will be a cash option at the stadium.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students. HCS won’t be charging for parking during the 2020-2021 school year “for health and safety,” according to a statement on high school football procedures.
The seats at the stadium are also marked to indicate that family groups can sit together, but that there is still distancing.
“Because of safety concerns, there will be no marked student sections for the 2020-2021 school year. The seats are marked in a way that allow for social distancing rules to be followed. Please do not remove any seating barriers,” HCS officials state.
In order to avoid congregating, all guests “must remain in their seats during the game unless visiting the restrooms or concession areas. Guests are requested to exit the stadium immediately after the game.”
Like Fleetwood, Grissom High School Football Coach Chip English is also preparing his team for a game on Thursday. The Tigers face off against Cullman High School at Alabama A&M’s Louis Crews Stadium.
He said while his squad works to stay safe both in the locker room and on the sideline, he said his players need to leave everything on the field.
“Your season could be counted in days and so make every day count. And the guys have responded well and they have to understand and value each day, whether it be practice or a game,” English said.
Kickoff for both games is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 20.