Football

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium will house a maximum of 17,000 fans in 2020, as opposed to its listed capacity of more than 88,000.

This story was updated to reflect new information. 

The Gators announced that fans will be in attendance at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the 2020 season Thursday.

The press release states that capacity is limited to approximately 20 percent of The Swamp’s maximum capacity, or 17,000 fans, per game.  

Spectators will be required to wear a face covering at all times, upon entering and exiting the stadium and throughout the entire game, and can only remove it to eat or drink. Otherwise, they’re expected to wear a mask, just as students are expected to while on campus. Failure to comply may result in loss of ticket privileges according to the release.

“As we have throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked hand in hand with UF Health, the SEC and its Medical Guidance Task Force and campus officials to create the safest environment possible for the student-athletes, staff and fans,” Athletics Director Scott Stricklin said in a release.

For the seating arrangements, every other seating row will be used to accommodate for social distancing, according to the release. 

Ticketing methods go as follows: 

All stadium sections will be used. Fans, both individuals and groups, will be spaced four seats apart. The Evans Champions Club and Holloway Touchdown Terrace seats will follow the same protocol. For skybox and Gator Den suites, suite holders will receive seating plans directly.

For gate entry, all tickets will be scanned digitally and staff is instructed not to touch a fan’s phone or ticket. Fans are encouraged to enter through specific gates based on where their seats are located. 

The release states that signs will be posted throughout the stadium to encourage social distancing. There will be hand sanitizing stations throughout The Swamp, staff will be spread out to monitor and encourage physical distancing and water fountains will not be used; automatic bottle refilling stations are available. 

Concessions will have markings to space fans apart while in line. Menu items will be individually packed and all condiments are included. Fans can order through the Gators app for express pickup to reduce contact. 

The sports shops will have customer limits: 35 for the North location and 25 for the South. 

Masks are required for all staff and vendors. 

Florida is the 11th SEC school to make such an announcement. LSU, Kentucky and Vanderbilt are the only schools in the conference that have yet to present definitive figures. Most schools’ capacity percentages have hovered around 20 and 25.

Less fans in the stands is just one of many things that will make gameday different this year. The UAA announced that tailgating will not be allowed on UF’s campus. Gator Walk—the gameday tradition in which the football players are bused up to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and walk through its doors surrounded by adoring fans—will not take place this season either. Gator Walk Village, consequently, will not be set up. There will be no Gators Fan Fest or Spirit teams on the sidelines.

Florida’s season kicks off at noon Sept. 26 against Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi. The first home game with these new regulations set in place will be Oct. 3 against South Carolina.

Contact Payton Titus at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @petitus25.

Payton Titus is a sports writer covering softball this season. She has also written for Swimming World Magazine, Inside the Gators and Chomp Talk.