CORONAVIRUS

Fewer fans to be allowed at Kingston Stadium football games this week

Attendance to be limited to 1,600 total for Wash-Kennedy game Friday and 1,300 for Jeff-Liberty game Thursday

Washington's Henry Clymer (15) hands off to Max Bjornsen (7) as Bjornsen runs for the two point conversion during the se
Washington’s Henry Clymer (15) hands off to Max Bjornsen (7) as Bjornsen runs for the two point conversion during the second quarter of their Mississippi Valley Conference high school football game against the Cedar Rapids Jefferson J-Hawks at Kingston Stadium in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — One week into the prep football season, and the three Cedar Rapids public schools are making a significant change for games at their shared home stadium.

Friday night’s east-side battle between Cedar Rapids Washington and Cedar Rapids Kennedy at Kingston Stadium will be limited to 1,600 fan entries maximum, 800 for each school. Thursday night’s game between Iowa City Liberty and Cedar Rapids Jefferson also will have a cap: 800 for Jefferson and 500 maximum allowed for Liberty.

No general admission tickets will be sold to either game. The reason for the change is increased COVID-19 cases, both in sheer numbers and in test positivity rates, in Linn (and also in this case) Johnson counties.

“If the numbers stayed in check in the city and in the county, as far as coronavirus positive tests and positivity rates, we felt Kingston was a big enough place,” said Kennedy Activities Director Aaron Stecker. “But with the increased positivity rate here last weekend, over the weekend and into this week, along with observations at last week’s game, we learned an awful lot about what we could and could not manage out there. We really felt that you put those things together, and we had to put some restrictions in place so we are keeping folks safe.”

It was estimated that 2,700 fans attended last week’s Washington-Jefferson game.

Fans were required to wear masks and seats were marked as available or not available for use with social distancing in mind. Student sections also were widened to allow kids to spread out more.

This week, players will be assigned a certain number of wristbands, depending on each school’s roster size, that they can distribute to friends and family to attend. Those wristbands assure the holder will be able to buy a game ticket.

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Whatever number of tickets is left over after that will go to students, with seniors and juniors getting preferential treatment.

“I just think the increase in numbers we are seeing, and the increased recommendations (from county and state health departments) ... When the governor came out last Thursday and said they were shutting down bars in Linn County, then, OK, how does that affect us, and what should we be taking into consideration?” Stecker said. “I would say the conversation probably started last Thursday. We stayed with no restrictions on Friday to see how it went. Based on that experience, and based on (COVID-19) numbers continuing to rise the last three or four days past that, and having (enchanced) recommendations coming, we just felt it was time to restrict out there.”

Stecker said he felt good about the Kennedy fan response for last week’s game at Cedar Rapids Prairie when it came to wearing masks and trying to stay socially distanced, though he pointed out they were “packed in” pretty tightly in the smaller visitor’s bleacher section at John Wall Field. He said Kingston protocols will be on a week-by-week basis.

The three Iowa City public schools (Liberty, West and City High) are not allowing any fans at their home football games because Johnson County is one of the nation’s hottest spots for COVID-19 right now.

“If spread continues to gets worse, we may have to restrict further,” Stecker said. “Obviously our hope would be we won’t have to do that. I certainly don’t want to end up in a situation like where they’re at in Iowa City. That has got to be tough on them with no fans at games at all. But, at the same time, if the numbers go well and trend the right direction in Linn County and our community, then we can certainly begin to open things back up.”

The Cedar Rapids Community School District reminds fans that can’t attend games that they may watch a live game feed on the district’s EngageCRschools channel on YouTube.

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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