High school football returns to Wildcat Stadium Friday night.

Although the University Interscholastic League is allowing high school sporting venues to open at 50 percent maximum capacity, Wildcat Stadium will operate closer to 40 percent.

Steve Prentiss, Temple Independent School District’s assistant athletic director, told the Telegram how this will allow for better spacing among the approximate 4,000 fans in attendance.

“UIL guidelines are limiting us to 50 percent capacity, and their recommendation is to use every other row,” he said. “But that doesn’t allow for spacing between groups. We’re going to be at about 40 percent capacity, because I felt it was important to put that spacing between groups.”

Despite the limited attendance caused by COVID-19, Superintendent Bobby Ott is elated for the Wildcat community to return to the district’s home stadium.

“I believe I share the same sentiment as many in saying that I look forward to our students and community breathing life back into Wildcat Stadium,” he said. “Wildcat spirit has traveled well abroad in the last few weeks but there’s no place like home.”

This year tickets are available for purchases online only at wildcatstrong,com/tickets. All seats will be reserved. Tickets are priced at $8 for seats with blue chair backs and $7 for standard bench seating.

“A lot of schools are doing general admission seating, but we opted for reserved seating,” Prentiss said. “(Assigned seating) will help make the stadium a little more orderly and ensure we have spacing. We want to keep fans in the stands and our kids on the field, so we’re trying to do everything we can to provide a safe environment.”

Face coverings are required for everyone in attendance — a guideline Prentiss does not expect to become an issue.

“This will be the first game we’ve had, so not sure what to expect … But we feel like our fans understand where we’re at,” he said.

Fans, who are unable to attend games in person, can now watch the game via a livestream on Temple ISD’s YouTube Channel at youtube.com/c/templeisd1883.

“The UIL did a great change this year by allowing us to livestream Friday night games,” Prentiss said. “We’ll have a link on our athletic website for that, and we’ll send out social media reminders as well.”

Although a crew was contracted to operate the camera system this season, Temple ISD intends for students to lead that effort in the future.

“This year we’ve contracted a crew out of (University of Mary Hardin-Baylor) to run the cameras, and they will be training our students,” Prentiss said. “Our students will get to shadow the job, and the intent is that it’ll be a full student-run broadcast at this time next year.”

Prentiss is hoping for an overall positive experience with an in-person crowd, and listed one Wildcat tradition fans won’t be allowed to engage in this season.

“Traditionally, our fans have been allowed to come down onto the field after games, but because of the safety protocols in place that’s not going to be allowed this year,” he said.