Auburn Athletics announced the fall, 20 percent capacity at Jordan-Hare stadium would consist of students only. Alabama Football needs to follow their lead.
There is no question football season will look dramatically different this year… assuming we even make it far enough to start the season. Confidence in that is down slightly after numerous pictures and reports of crowded bars and parties have surfaced from around the country, including in Tuscaloosa. However, if it happens, the Alabama Football athletics department needs to reevaluate their ticket allocations plan before moving forward.
The SEC already announced stadium capacities would be limited, opposing fans would not receive tickets, and fans would be required to wear masks while inside the stadium. The Alabama Football team will be playing in front of just 20 percent of the usual capacity this Fall. The Athletics department released new ticket packages, and even the cheapest of tickets now cost a small fortune.
Students will receive a portion of those allotted tickets at $20 per ticket. 40 percent of the student tickets will go to Seniors, 20 percent to Juniors, 15 percent to Sophomores, 15 percent to Freshman, and 10 percent to graduate students. Students will only be able to purchase a maximum of two tickets for the season, and ticket allotments will be determined based on credit hours. It is not clear what portion of the full capacity will be provided for students to purchase.
Auburn Athletics revealed a much different plan. For at least their home opener against Kentucky, all general tickets will be reserved for Auburn students. Controlled premium seats and seats for team visitors will still be reserved for those guests. The Athletics Director did say this was a policy that was subject to change throughout the course of the season.
Only allowing students to purchase general admission tickets is the smart decision, and it’s one Alabama Athletics Director, Greg Byrne, should seriously consider.
First, it will help deter outside guests from coming to Tuscaloosa. It has already been announced tailgating will not happen this Fall. If there is no tailgating and no tickets for guests to purchase, that should limit the number of people entering the city. If only students are allowed in the game, you help control some of the outside impact. That would result in 20,000 fewer people traveling into the city.
Second, only allowing students will help create some sort of home-field advantage. Student sections are known for being loud and obnoxious. With only 20,000 fans, it will be hard to create the kind of environment the Alabama Football team is used to having. However, if nearly all 20,000 of those individuals are college students, you might have a chance.
Many of the veteran season-ticket holders are the cross-your-arms-and-stare-at-the-field type of fans, and they do not contribute to the environment. They have been spoiled by the success of the team and could use a season off in favor of those whose time attending football games is limited.
Third, attending football games as a student is a right of passage. My fondest memories of my time as a University of Alabama student took place in the student section of Bryant-Denny Stadium. Every Fall I realize I would give anything to have one more game as a student. Most only have four years to enjoy that privilege, and they do not deserve to miss out on that opportunity.
My heart breaks for any Senior who may only get to attend two games in Bryant Denny this Fall in their last season to enjoy them.
This global pandemic has taken enough. The least Alabama Football can do is give students as many opportunities as possible to bask in the glory of Bryant Denny.