Following a spring season of sporting events with no fans in the stands, Ithaca College has announced that full capacity crowds will be back in place this fall for all venues that host athletic events.
The college announced Aug. 31 that both indoor and outdoor events will have no restrictions on the amount of spectators permitted at these events during the fall season this year. Last spring, the college did not permit any spectators to attend events within the playing venues and prohibited spectators from congregating outside of venues.
Athletics Communications Specialist Frank Maira, said he could speak for many workers within the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics as to how happy they are to have full crowds again.
“We’re super excited to have fans back in the stands to cheer on the Ithaca Bombers here this fall,” Maira said. “Especially after opening weekend with the amount of wins our teams had.”
The policies are mostly the same for indoor and outdoor events. However, there are slight differences that also depend on the vaccination status of individuals. Maira said no matter a spectator’s vaccination status, they must always be wearing a mask correctly in indoor venues.
According to the spectator policy for this fall, the only time a spectator’s mask can come off during indoor events is when drinking. When they are done, spectators must put their masks back on. Also, while face coverings are required for indoor athletic events, they are only encouraged for outdoor games. If a spectator is unvaccinated, they must be wearing a mask while maintaining six feet of social distance between others at all times.
Justin Lutes, the associate director of Athletics Communications, said he is confident in the policies being put in place, which were created through the Liberty League and the college’s athletic director, athletic trainer, team physician and the Hammond Health Center.
“I think the guidelines run consistent with what Ithaca College has put in place for the overall campus after the rise in cases in Tompkins County.” Lutes said.
On Sept. 7, Tompkins County reported that there were 17 new positive COVID-19 cases, putting the current total active cases at 354 cases in the county.
Although spectators are now allowed into venues to attend events as opposed to none being allowed last semester, there are still current restrictions put in place by the current spectator policy. Other implications for indoor events include food not being permitted. Limited concessions will be supplied, but only at select games during the fall season. Spectators can, however, bring water and non-alcoholic drinks into the various venues on campus.
On Sept. 4, the Ithaca College football team defeated Bridgewater State University 52-20 in front of 3,100 fans at Jim Butterfield Stadium in its first game in nearly two years. The Ithaca College men’s soccer team moved to 2-0 Sept. 4 with a 2-0 victory over the United States Merchant Marine Academy in front of a crowd of 400. The Ithaca College volleyball team completed a comeback victory from being down two sets to none to the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons to win 3-2 in front of a group of 222 fans in Ben Light Gymnasium on Sept. 1.
Senior Cyerra Adams said she went to the football game Sept. 4 and the volleyball games Sept. 3 and 4. Adams said she attended Bombers sporting events during her first two years at the college and that the atmosphere at those games was exciting and fun.
“I definitely felt that [the crowd’s energy was high], especially at the volleyball game,” Adams said. “The football game was especially packed … I saw a couple of my friends at the football game and they were really happy to be there.”
Junior Matt Kane was also in attendance for the football team’s season opening victory and said he enjoyed being back at Jim Butterfield Stadium to cheer on the Bombers.
“The energy was great,” Kane said. “Just being there with my friends and some other peers at Ithaca was awesome. We even started to try to do the wave, but it didn’t really work out at first, but we got some fans to do the wave which was really cool.”
Junior Karina Norman echoed a similar sentiment, saying she was happy to see the gameday experience return to a sense of normalcy.
“[There was] so much energy in the crowd at the volleyball game specifically,” Norman said. “And then, the football game was obviously amazing. All the parents [were] there and there [were] people tailgating and it was like back to the way it was.”
The Ithaca College field hockey team also had the opportunity to compete in front of fans during its season opener Sept. 1. Senior field hockey back Anna Parrish said she was pumped to see fans in the stands of Higgins Stadium during the team’s 2-1 win over the Utica College Pioneers.
“It seemed like [the fans] brought the energy,” Parrish said, “It was nice to hear people cheering on from the sidelines again.”