Kansas athletic director Jeff Long hopes Saturday’s home football game against Oklahoma State marks the first of many sporting events to be contested before fans in venues on KU’s campus during this pandemic-plagued 2020-21 school year.

“It’s important our fans follow those rules (set up for viewing games during pandemic) because that will allow us to have fans in future games, not only in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, but also Allen Fieldhouse (basketball), Rock Chalk Park (soccer, track, softball) and Horejsi Family Arena (volleyball),” Long said Thursday.

Up to 10,000 fans will be allowed admittance into Booth Memorial Stadium for Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. homecoming football game against Oklahoma State, which will be shown live on ESPN. All seats are reserved. They are spread throughout the stadium and designated by blue chair backs.

Chair backs mark the exact areas fans will be seated according to locations printed on their tickets, which they received in the mail.

Long explained the chair backs “clearly mark where fans are allowed to be seated. They will be expected to stay in the reserved seats they’ve received.”

Fans, including the 1,000 students who received tickets, must wear masks in the stadium except for the times they are eating food or drinking a beverage.

“On our campus we have a mask-wearing policy. We are all wearing masks and expecting our fans to wear masks,” Long said Thursday. “We have hand sanitizing (stations) throughout the stadium. If we do those things (including sitting in the socially distanced chair backs), we are confident we will have a safe environment and also be allowed to have fans return to our stadium (for future games),” he added.

Fans were not allowed to attend KU’s football opener against Coastal Carolina on Sept. 12 at Booth Memorial Stadium because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

There will be KU staff members and security in the stands Saturday to “remind” fans to wear their masks, remain in their chair backs and thus be socially distant, Long said.

“We will be trying to remind those fans, those students, to keep following those guidelines because it is so key to the future of what we’ll be allowed to do,” Long said, referring to Douglas County officials and KU’s medical experts perhaps recommending more than 10,000 fans be allowed into future games if KU fans abide by safety guidelines.

He continued: “I think our fans should understand that following the guidelines this game really truly does help us determine the future. And the future of having games in our stadium here and in Allen Fieldhouse makes a huge impact in our finances. That’s our programs. That’s our student-athletes. That’s jobs in our department. It’s important to us. We would be less than being honest if we didn’t say we’re in a little bit of a financial crisis right now brought about by the (pandemic).”

He said he truly hopes the 10,000 fans help the Jayhawks (0-2) claim an upset victory over the No. 17-ranked Cowboys (2-0).

“We want them to have fun. We want them to be excited about us playing football again. We want them to enjoy the experience, but overall we want to keep them safe as well.,” Long said.

Information regarding stadium COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic policies is available at KUathletics.com.

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