More fans will be able to attend this weekend’s Battle for the Bell after Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday announced changes to gathering limits for outdoor and indoor events.
The adjustments, which go into effect Friday, include an allowance for number of spectators based on a facility’s maximum occupancy. Depending on the size of the venue, and whether it’s an indoor or outdoor event, anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of the max capacity could be allowed.
The changes will impact the Lackawanna Football Conference for Week 2, including the meeting of crosstown rivals. West Scranton hosts Scranton on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Memorial Stadium, and the district moved swiftly in announcing its adjusted policy for attendance. Each school will be provided 900 tickets ($4 for adults, $2 for students) and all tickets available must be purchased in advance.
It’s a significant difference from when the Knights hosted North Pocono at Memorial Stadium in the season opener Oct. 2. The district limited that game’s capacity to 250 and no public attendance was allowed outside of senior members of Scranton’s team, band and cheerleading squad being issued one ticket apiece for a parent or guardian.
“I am happiest most for the kids,” West Scranton athletic director Tom Smith said. “I am also happy for the parents and family who have supported those involved. It’s a really good combination, the kids are happy, the administration is happy. We appreciate everyone’s patience and we appreciate what the governor has done.”
Tickets can be purchased Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m.; Thursday from noon to 3 p.m.; and Friday from noon to 3 p.m. Scranton High School is selling tickets at the front entrance, while West Scranton will sell tickets at the 13th Street side of the school. On Saturday, Memorial Stadium’s parking lot gate and the Providence Street gate will both open at 1 p.m. Masks and social distancing are required. There will be no re-entry into the game and no concession stand.
“I am glad there will be some fans to give the game the atmosphere it has had, because it always draws a crowd,” Scranton athletic director Ted Anderson said. “I am also happy for the kids, the parents and the community to share in the experience of the traditional game.”
All rules regarding capacity at Memorial Stadium also apply to Friday night’s game between Western Wayne and Scranton Prep.
“The addition of spectators does not mean that the Scranton School District is going to relax on sanitation protocols,” Smith said. “The game policies of masks, social distancing, staying in the stands, no contact with student-athletes or field units will all be in place.
“The Scranton School District is committed to protecting students, game personnel and spectators. We are very confident in the communities of both schools to follow the guidelines for the safety of all.”
The adjusted guidelines from the governor as posted by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association include:
For indoor events
• A maximum occupancy of 0-2,000 people, the allowable indoor rate is 20% of maximum occupancy.
• A maximum occupancy of 2,001-10,000 people, the allowable indoor rate is 15% of maximum occupancy.
• A maximum occupancy of over 10,000 people, the allowable indoor rate is 10% of the maximum occupancy up to 3,750.
For outdoor events
• A maximum occupancy of 0-2,000 people, the allowable outdoor rate is 25% of maximum occupancy.
• A maximum occupancy of 2,001-10,000 people, the allowable outdoor rate is 20% of maximum occupancy.
• A maximum occupancy of over 10,000 people, the allowable outdoor rate is 15% of maximum occupancy up to 7,500 people.
According to a release by the PIAA, schools and venues must require attendees to comply with 6-foot social distancing requirements, to wear masks or face coverings and to utilize timed entry, multiple entry and exit points, multiple restrooms and hygiene stations.