BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Amid concerns from the campus community about crowding, concessions, and the coronavirus following Virginia Tech’s football season opener last week, the university is adjusting the gameday experience for fans at Lane Stadium for the next game.
Virginia Tech athletic officials say the modified protocols — which will go into effect for the football game against Middle Tennessee State University on Saturday, Sept. 11 — will impact the student section, concessions, entry gates, and mobile ticketing.
You can read the full statement shared by Virginia Tech Athletics on Wednesday, Sept. 8 below:
Dear Hokie Nation,
Our department has been diligent about reviewing areas for improvement from Friday night’s victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels in conjunction with all of the staff responsible for making Lane Stadium come to life. On any given night, operating Lane Stadium requires over 1,000 people. We appreciate their work and their commitment to continuous improvement.
We also acknowledge that not everything worked as perfectly as we had anticipated. There are areas we will continue to refine and improve. Some of these issues were visible (for example, the challenges of separating students/general public and long concession lines), while other issues occurred behind-the-scenes. Regardless, our only objective is to provide a wonderful experience for our guests. When we say “This is Home”, we mean it and we take that responsibility seriously. Our commitment to a first-class experience defines what we do and how we prepare. We apologize to anyone who did not have a tremendous experience. We’ve heard you, we witnessed much of it first-hand, and we are working diligently to rectify it. Thank you for your support as we continue to improve.
We appreciate that our fans come to impact the game and we want you to continue to play a role. We do ask that all fans keep it respectful. We want to create an amazing home field advantage, but not at the expense of any of our guests.
We are listing a myriad of items below which will be employed on Saturday, and moving forward, to help improve the game day experience. When possible, we have attempted to provide context in order to help others understand why we are making certain decisions. As many businesses are currently experiencing, being fully staffed with some of our part-time roles is challenging. We are working with countless groups and staffing agencies to find talented teammates. Some of the changes below reflect the reality of the staffing situation many organizations are currently facing.
Students — we need you to impact our game on the field, not in the stands. In an effort to continue to clearly define the areas assigned to students and the areas assigned to season ticket holders and the general public — in addition to assisting with crowd control — the following measures will be put into place:
— A completely reworked gate entrance at Gate 7 will still allow the first 5,000 students to enter the North Endzone stands and the remaining students to move to the East stands. This route will go up the ramp all the way to the top of Section 21 and then students will move into their assigned areas from there.
— Students — your seats are general admission within your assigned areas (North End Zone, Sections 1 and 3 above the portals, and Sections 21, 23, 25, and to the middle of Section 27 where the aisle splits), not anywhere else in the stadium. Click here to view a student section seat map.
— We are installing seat tarps at the bottom of the student section below Sections 25 and 27 to clearly define where students can and cannot sit. Students — you can sit ABOVE the tarp that says “Welcome to the Terror Dome.”
— Wristbands will still be utilized for entry into the North Endzone so students are encouraged to come early in order to be one of the first 5,000 students inside.
— We will be reducing some of the menu options so that we can focus on reducing wait times caused by staffing challenges. We will focus on providing standard concessions items in order to expedite the lines, including hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, and pretzels.
— We will add and adjust 15 total beverage-only concessions stands (serving water, soda, and beer) within the concourses.
— Gates open at noon, two hours before the game on Saturday, but we ask you to download your mobile tickets by Friday or earlier. For the home opener, over 85% of fans downloaded their ticket before they set foot on campus on Friday. Having the Hokiesports App on your mobile device and being able to see your tickets at your house or from your hotel room, is not the same as having added your tickets to your Apple wallet or to Google Pay. The Hokiesports App requires the internet to access your ticket account, but once you add your tickets from the App to your Apple Wallet or Google Pay, they live on your phone. No internet is necessary to access your mobile ticket once it’s in your Wallet or Google Pay.Virginia Tech Athletics
— There will be customer service locations at Gate 4 and Gate 2 to help with any game day ticket needs. Both locations open three hours prior to kickoff.
If you want to buy ticket’s for Saturday’s football game at Lane Stadium, click here.
This news comes after Virginia Tech’s Athletic Department issued a statement on Tuesday, Sept. 7 responding to complaints about the opening game against the University of North Carolina on Friday, Sept. 3, where thousands of fans crowded into Lane Stadium to watch the Hokies take on the Tar Heels.
“It was a bit of a mad house,” said Brianna Wagner, a senior at Virginia Tech. “I think that having two classes that never been to a football game, they didn’t exactly know what was going on. Everyone was just, kind of, pushing their way to the front… people were getting trampled a little bit.”
Some people also expressed concern about the number of mask-less people inside the stadium.
WFXR News asked Dr. Noelle Bissell, the director of the New River Health District, on Tuesday if she expects to see a rise in cases after Friday’s game.
“We don’t expect to see a huge bump, we really don’t. We might be surprised, but the students were vaccinated,” said Dr. Bissell. “Virginia Tech has very high vaccination rates with their students. We were there offering vaccines, and people we engaged with, for the most part, were already vaccinated, so that’s a really good sign.”
Dr. Bissell also told WFXR News that having the game outside also reduces the risk of transmission, but it’s still very important for people to stay home when they are sick.
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