COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Stands at Faurot Field won't be nearly as full this Saturday as they would be for a season opening game.
That's on purpose.
Mizzou Athletics is preparing the stadium to host up to 11,700 people while ensuring fans can be spread apart amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes a limited number of seats available, sectioning off the stadium into 11 different "zones" and requiring that everyone wear masks while inside.
The University of Missouri worked with Dimensional Innovations to come up with a plan to host football games this year. Records ABC 17 News obtained show the department paid DI more than $15,000 for their work.
"We all want to have football home games, there's a lot of people that want to attend them," associate athletic director Tony Wirkus said. "It really comes down to personal responsibility and everyone doing their part to make sure this continues to be possible."
Wirkus walked ABC 17 News through Faurot Field on Wednesday to show people what game day will look like. He also answered questions about where Mizzou went against recommendations given to it by Dimensional Innovations.
Coming to the stadium
All MU football game tickets will have a colored "zone" marked on it to show them where they should enter. Those zones will correspond with a specific gate. Wirkus said informational signs will be up in parking lots around the arena to tell people which gate goes with their zone.
Gates will be sectioned off by metal bike racks to help create distance between lines at the entrance. Wirkus said Mizzou Athletics is discouraging people from bringing bags with them to limit the number of things different people have to touch. Should a fan bring a bag, Wirkus said it must still comply with the SEC's clear bag policy.
Temporary hand sanitizer dispensers will be set around the stadium and within the gates.
The stadium halls will also have colored "zone" stickers throughout. Wirkus said staff wanted each zone to have identical amenities such as bathrooms and concession stands.
While people will be allowed to move from zone to zone, Wirkus said he hopes people will stay in their assigned zone for the whole game.
"It was just trying to figure out a way of how to divide up our stadium resources so we're keeping people not sectioned off, but try to avoid crossover if we can," Wirkus said of the zone idea. "If you want a specific concession item, the old way we had things was it might be five sections over from you because the menus vary."
Dimensional listed bathrooms as one of the highest risk areas for fans getting COVID-19. The company suggested MU clearly mark the entrance and exit of all two-door bathrooms and close off sinks and urinals to enforce social distancing.
While markers will be on the ground, MU did not follow the guidance on shutting down urinals and sinks. Instead, the department installed vinyl barriers between each one. Wirkus said shutting them down would create lines for the bathroom, which MU wanted to avoid.
Wirkus said staff will be on hand to make sure the high-touch objects, such as sinks and soap dispensers, are cleaned and that soap dispensers stay full.
Bleachers at Faurot Field will have groups of black seatbacks marking where someone sits. Each group of seats is kept six feet from the other in all directions.
Wirkus said instead of figuring out how to get the stadium to hold an allowed capacity, staff first found out a way to distance all groups of seats. Once it ran out of space, Wirkus said that's when they decided how many the stadium could hold.
Ushers and other stadium staff will monitor the seating area to make sure people are following the distancing and mask rules. Wirkus said mask rules would be enforced like other stadium policies, such as the ban on smoking. Not wearing a mask can lead to a fan getting kicked out, but Wirkus said that's not the university's preference.
"That's not what we're looking to do," Wirkus said. "We're looking for maximum compliance. The ushers will have signs reminding people to wear their mask unless they're eating or drinking. Beyond that, if there's an issue with it, it's going to be asking the person 'Hey, would you please put your mask on,' and again, reminding everyone that we all want to keep having games so it's really important we all do our part."