116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — From July through the end of August, navigating the team vaccination question has been touchy for Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.
At Big Ten Media Days, Ferentz said that almost 70 percent of his team was vaccinated, among the lowest in the Big Ten. He vaguely said that number had increased by Iowa media day a month later.
But on Tuesday, Ferentz had news on the percentage.
“It’s probably in the upper 90s (percentage wise) right now,” Ferentz said. “People have jumped on board probably since this past month or so.”
Iowa senior cornerback Riley Moss said "only a handful“ of players on the team aren’t vaccinated, estimating the number is under 10.
“I think it’s just been seen as, if you want to be able to be out on the field and help out the team, it’s hard to do that when you pose the challenge of maybe being taken out because you don’t have the vaccine,” Moss said.
No vaccine mandate or negative test requirement at Kinnick
In addition to Ferentz’s news on vaccination, Iowa athletics director Gary Barta announced that while fans are not required to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entering the stadium for Saturday’s season-opening game against Indiana, they will have an opportunity to get vaccinated on site.
“Hy-Vee is going to be offering at our game the opportunity for fans to get vaccinated,” Barta said. “Right on the north side of the stadium and my understanding is that Hy-Vee is going to offer that at Iowa State, as well, and I’ve heard that they offered it at the state fair.”
A number of schools are implementing rules regarding vaccination. LSU, Syracuse, Oregon, Oregon State, Boston College and Tulane are requiring fans show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter their games, but under an Iowa law signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds in May, “a business or governmental entity shall not require a customer, patron, patient or other person invited on the premises to furnish proof of having received a vaccination for COVID-19 prior to entering.”
Barta encouraged fans to get vaccinated, saying while not mandated, it’s the path to beating the virus.
Paperless ticketing, payments and shortage of staff
Barta encouraged fans to arrive early to the first game day of the season because of the new paperless ticketing, cashless payments within the stadium and the shortage of staff.
An estimated 2,500 tickets are left for the Iowa vs. Indiana game this Saturday, but student tickets have sold out.
“Student sections sold out right away this summer and then we made more student tickets available,” Barta said. “We have about 2,500 tickets, we’re still selling them every week. We were on pace to sell out and then my only thought is that as the variant became more and more discussed, that probably slowed down our ticket sales. But still a great crowd, it will feel and look sold out.”
Tickets are paperless this year, so fans are encouraged to download them and their parking passes prior to arriving at Kinnick. If there are technical difficulties on game day, there will be help stations with game-day personnel to assist.
But Barta warned there is a shortage of staff working the opening game. Normally, Iowa has anywhere from 500 to 1,000 people working on game day, but he said they are struggling to meet that 500 mark, and encourages anyone who wants to work game day to sign up online. It is because of the shortage of staff and increase in number of points of entry from 84 to 94 that Barta encourages fans to arrive early.
In addition, all concessions will also be cashless in effort to minimize contact between fans and staff. The addition of beer and alcohol sales is also an added excitement to this year’s game-day atmosphere, and those sales will cease after the third quarter.
With all the new changes, fans should be excited to come back to Kinnick for the first time in 21 months.
“I just feel the goosebumps of having the music and seeing the team come down the tunnel and I just can’t wait to feel that again,” Barta said.