Iowa State reversed course on Wednesday, announcing the Cyclones will play their season opener without fans at Jack Trice Stadium as cases of COVID-19 soar in their community.
Ames, Iowa, where the Big 12 campus is located, was identified by The New York Times on Monday as the nation’s No. 1 hotspot for the coronavirus, with 8.2 new cases per every 1,000 residents. Story County, where Ames is located, has a 14-day positivity rate of 21.3 percent, with four out of every five positive cases among people ages 18-40, according to the report.
The Times report came the same day the school announced the stadium could have 25,000 fans for the Cyclones’ opener on Sept. 12 against Louisiana-Lafayette, with various protocols put in place.
“Over the weekend, [university president Wendy] Wintersteen gave our working group the approval to move forward with the plans that were jointly developed,” Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said in a statement released by the school. “Our department announced those plans on Monday, which included allowing fans, who purchased season tickets, to attend the first game.
“President Wintersteen shared with me on Tuesday evening that, after weighing feedback she has received from the community, she has decided to reverse the decision. As a result, we will play the season opener without fans.”
Stadium capacity is about 60,000.
Dr. John Paschen, the chairman of the Story County Board of Health, on Monday labeled Iowa State’s first decision as “irresponsible.”
The athletic department released COVID-19 test results on Wednesday that showed eight athletes, out of 207 student-athletes tested Aug. 24-29, were positive for the virus. In 1,203 tests conducted between June 8 and Aug. 29, 49 student-athletes were shown to have the virus.
―Field Level Media