SPRINGBORO, Ohio (WDTN) – Friday night football kicks off tonight but this year, there will be a lot of empty seats as the state capped the stadium capacity at 15 percent.
Springboro Panthers are hosting the Northmont Thunderbolts for the season’s kickoff and it’s one the games in Ohio that will be monitored. Northmont’s Athletic Director, Micah Harding, said Governor Mike DeWine hired inspectors to go to select games and make sure all guidelines are being followed.
Both Harding and Springboro’s AD, Austin Rhoads, said after spending the summer uncertain if sports would return, they’re going to do whatever they can to help their kids play all season.
“We have alternating rows where we’ve put signs saying ‘Please don’t sit here’ and in the student section, we’ve put X’s signaling six feet apart, we’ve put up signage and will be making announcements about social distancing and face coverings,” said Rhoads.
The state capped the capacity to 15 percent, and Harding said the Greater Western Ohio Conference decided that away teams would get 200 tickets to divvy up. Both teams said they are prioritizing family members for all tickets.
“The numbers we have in football, band and cheerleading, if you give everyone three or four tickets, you’re getting close to the max number,” said Rhoads. “So there’s not going to be a whole lot unfortunately for the community.”
All tickets are being sold online which Rhoads said helps them cut off at the exact number they’re allowed.
Only home bands will perform but there will be concessions and Harding encourages attending fans to buy some snacks.
“With football being the biggest money maker that athletic departments have and being limited, there’s going to have to be some changes made to our budget and how we purchase uniforms and equipment on down the road,” said Harding.
He said the GWOC ADs have been meeting weekly, sometimes daily to make sure everything is squared away so these kids can play.
“For a lot of students, this is their motivation to get good grades or an opportunity to go to college so we’re really excited for Friday nights,” said Harding. “It might not be the crowds that we’re used to but we’re just glad to have sports back.”
Rhoads said for fans that don’t make the game, they will be streaming it on the TKDS Sports Network. He said there is a small price but a good portion of the proceeds go to the athletics department.