Rejoice, everyone: this time, if the stands are empty at a Vanderbilt game, it’s because of COVID-19 and not because everybody left in the third quarter of a blowout loss to UNLV.
Vanderbilt University announced today it would begin the fall athletics season without spectators at home events now through the end of October.
For the record, this is more than likely the smart thing to do, though it will probably come with a financial hit due to the loss ot revenue not only from ticket sales, but also concessions, merchandise sales, and whatever else people spend their money on at Vanderbilt Stadium.
I still think that “through the end of October” is a bit optimistic for having fans back in the stands; for football, this means that home games against LSU, South Carolina, and Ole Miss will be played in an empty Vanderbilt Stadium, while soccer will not have fans for any home game except the final home game of the season against Ole Miss on November 7.
Full statement from Athletic Director Candice Storey Lee:
“Our student-athletes and coaching staffs are ready to compete and win in the best conference in the nation, but we recognize that we have to do so in our ‘new normal’ environment, where we need to focus on keeping everyone as healthy and safe as possible,” Lee said. “Playing without fans allows us to concentrate all of our energies on our student-athletes and minimize scenarios that could jeopardize their health and safety, and their ability to complete the season.
“We understand the impact this decision to compete without spectators has on both our fan base and our student-athletes, but this is the right thing to do for us because of the current challenges posed by COVID-19. Given factors in play at Vanderbilt, such as playing in the heart of a city, we feel this decision is in the best interest of our students, fans, game day staff, and the greater Nashville community.
“Across the country, we have seen professional leagues, universities, athletic departments and conferences react in different ways to their unique challenges, and we must do the same. College sports thrives with a passionate fanbase and we look forward to responsibly welcoming them back when we can do so safely. In the meantime, we are also developing innovative approaches for fans to cheer on our Commodores in fun new ways.”