Majority of Florida college football teams plan for full capacity this fall

American Football ball in white medical mask for protection of the COVID-19 virus. Cancellation of sporting events and matches concept. Super bowl
With new CDC guidance, fans will soon be able to enjoy the gridiron with fewer limitations.

The majority of Florida’s college football teams plan to allow full fan capacity this fall at their stadiums.

Several schools across the country have also announced plans to allow 100% capacity for the upcoming season after limiting attendance in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated people — those who are two weeks past their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — can quit wearing masks outdoors in crowds and most indoor settings and give up social distancing. Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated people should continue wearing masks, the agency said.

Here is a look at each Florida school’s plans for the fall (in alphabetical order):

Florida Atlantic University: “Right now, FAU is operating as if we will be at full capacity but will be prepared should the landscape change,” FAU spokesperson Katrina McCormack wrote in an email.

FAU Stadium has a capacity of 30,000 people. In 2020, the school limited the stadium’s capacity to 6,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Florida International University: FIU has yet to make a specific announcement regarding fall operations at Riccardo Silva Stadium. However, the school announced in March plans to resume operations without physical distancing restrictions starting on June 21.

FIU is also planning to host several summer football camps this summer at Riccardo Silva Stadium.

— Florida State University: FSU is planning to allow 100% fan capacity at Doak Campbell Stadium, according to FSU senior associate communications director Derek Satterfield.

Last week, FSU also sent an email to season-ticket holders to let them know of the fall plans.

In early May, FSU announced face masks would no longer be mandatory. The school announced it would plan to return to “pre-COVID capacity by the 2021-22 academic year and return to pre-COVID operations.”

In 2020, FSU limited Doak Campbell Stadium’s normal capacity of 79,560 people to 20-25%.

— University of Central Florida: “There is a current general expectation that we will be back to normal for athletics when events begin in the fall,” UCF Athletics spokesperson John Heisler wrote in an email.

Heisler said UCF would follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Orange County government, and the Board of Governors for all the state schools.

Last week, UCF announced it would no longer require face masks.

Earlier this month, UCF said it plans to begin operating the way it did before the pandemic starting on June 23.

UCF limited attendance at its April 10 Spring Game to 25% in the Bounce House, which normally holds 45,301 people.

— University of Florida: UF is planning to allow 100% fan capacity at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

On Monday, the University of Florida announced it would start the 2021-2022 academic year on June 28, which also marks when the school will return to pre-pandemic operations. It also includes fan participation in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, where UF plays its games for men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s gymnastics, women’s volleyball, swimming and diving.

“Please note that while we are encouraged by the progress we are making, we will continue to promote COVID-19 vaccinations, closely monitor the pandemic, and take appropriate steps aimed at continuing to safeguard our university community should it become necessary to do so,” UF wrote in a news release.

UF will make masks optional rather than required for students, faculty, staff and guests on university property.

Last year, UF limited capacity to about 17,000 people at home football games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, “The Swamp” holds 88,548 people.

— University of Miami: Hard Rock Stadium officials have yet to announce fall plans, according to UM senior associate athletic director of communications Carter Toole.

Hard Rock Stadium has a seating capacity of about 65,300 people. During the 2020 season, the Hurricanes allowed 13,000 fans per game at the stadium.

“More detailed plans for our university’s summer and fall semesters will be shared in the coming weeks,” wrote Professor of medicine Roy Weiss.

— University of South Florida: “We do plan to return to full capacity,” USF associate athletic director Brian Siegrist wrote in an email.

Raymond James Stadium has a capacity of 65,890 people.

In 2020, USF did not allow fans to attend the Sept. 12 game against The Citadel. USF began allowing fans on Oct. 10 when the school limited capacity to about 11,000 people for the game against East Carolina.

Mark Bergin

Mark Bergin is a freelance journalist, who previously worked as an online writer for 10News WTSP in St. Petersburg. Bergin has covered the Tampa Bay Rays’ stadium negotiations, the 2018 midterm elections, Hurricane Irma, Tampa Bay’s transportation issues and city/county government. He also covers the NFL for the Bleav Podcast Network and for You can follow his work on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at @mdbergin. Reach him by email at [email protected]


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