UPDATE: After a Wednesday meeting with multiple agencies, the Iowa High School Athletic Association has decided to further restrict attendance at the state football semifinals, according to a document released to The Gazette.
CEDAR FALLS — The UNI-Dome has a roof. But the facility is being treated as an outdoor venue when it comes to the climax of the 2020 Iowa high school football season.
The Iowa High School Athletic Association announced Tuesday afternoon that this week’s semifinals will go on as planned, using precautions established in consultation with the University of Northern Iowa and the Black Hawk County Health Department.
“We’re kind of in the early phases of seating arrangements, but families will be allowed to sit in pods of two to six people, and they need to be separated by at least 6 feet,” IHSAA executive director Tom Keating told The Gazette late Tuesday.
“Everybody, with the exception of the players, will need to be masked.”
Due to the escalating spread of COVID-19, Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a proclamation earlier Tuesday, permitting two spectators per participant to attend indoor high school and youth sports events.
But given the size of UNI-Dome (which seats about 16,000), Reynolds considers it the equivalent of an outdoor sporting event, allowing larger crowds for the semifinals and — probably — next week’s championship games.
“It will be similar to Principal Park (in Des Moines) for state baseball,” Keating said. “The Dome certainly won’t be at capacity.
“I think we’ll have enough room for everybody that wants to be there. It’s not as if we’ll just be allowing 2,000 people in there. But everybody is going to be more spread out.”
This is the fourth high school season to be impacted by COVD-19. In March, the final round of the boys’ state basketball tournament was played in a mostly empty Wells Fargo Arena.
All spring sports were suspended, then canceled, due to the virus. Summer sports were delayed by a couple of weeks.
“We just have to balance the needs the kids have to be in a community with concerns about their safety,” Keating said. “And it’s a tough balance.”
The semifinal series consists of 12 games — four each Thursday, Friday and Saturday — five of which contain Gazette-area teams.
Montezuma faces Remsen St. Mary’s at 9 a.m. Thursday in an 8-Player contest, then Cedar Rapids Xavier faces North Scott in a 3A battle at 7:30 p.m.
Iowa City Regina tangles with Saint Ansgar in a Class A game at 9 a.m. Friday, then Saturday battles include Sigourney-Keota and Ida Grove OABCIG (1A, 12:30 p.m.) and Waukon and Monroe PCM (2A, 7:30).
The six championship games are Nov. 19-20.
Tickets went on sale Saturday exclusively to participating schools. Remaining tickets are to become available for public sale on the day of the games. Tickets are $12.50 each and are good for one game; the UNI-Dome will be cleared between contests.
Parking is free at designated lots around the UNI-Dome.
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