Bobinski: Purdue planning for full capacity in Ross-Ade in 2021
It’s all systems go for filling the stands at Ross-Ade Stadium in 2021.
Purdue athletic director Mike Bobinski told GoldandBlack.com today that the athletic department is moving forward with plans to have full capacity at 57,236-seat Ross-Ade Stadium this fall.
“I can tell you what we're planning, because you have to plan this way,” said Bobinski. “You can’t ramp up your capacity plan at the last minute. So, we're planning for the opportunity to have full capacity in there right now.
“We understand that that's going to have to be subject to the world around us and conditions are going to have to support that. But we are planning for that, that we will have the opportunity to offer full attendance in the stadium next year.”
With the pandemic raging and with no vaccine on the horizon during the 2020 season, the Big Ten mandated that its member schools not have fans in the stands for games “to minimize the risk of transmission between student-athletes, coaches, staff and other essential game day personnel.” Only family of players and staff could be in the stands.
Will the Big Ten have a say in determining capacity limits for its member schools in 2021?
“No, no,” said Bobinski. “I can answer that one quickly. No. I'm almost certain at this point, and I know President (Mitch) Daniels is very strongly in this camp, that decisions should be made locally this year.
“Last year, there were good reasons for what we did. But it's a different time and place, different locales are clearly going to react differently, at least they have throughout the course of this. At this point in time, there's very strong sentiment to have local decision-making to sort of be the authority here for those kind of decisions going into next year.”
Earlier this spring, several schools across the nation announced similar plans for full capacity, including many SEC schools. Purdue begins the 2021 season at home on Sept. 4 vs. Oregon State, the first of six games scheduled for Ross-Ade Stadium.
"There's clearly a desire and I think a pent-up demand for people to be back and we certainly hope we can make that work and that's going to be our goal and our objective,” said Bobinski. “As the vaccine gets more widely distributed and hopefully everything else sort of follows along with what you would think, from a medical standpoint, I'd like to think we can do (full capacity).”
Bobinski says the early returns on 2021 season tickets sales have been encouraging.
“I would tell you that the response that we've gotten from renewals from our ticket holders, the purchase of new season tickets …. We have over 1,000 brand new season tickets that have been sold,” said Bobinski. “Our student response by the end of April … If we trend the way we're trending right now, by the end of April, we will have the most student boarding passes sold in our history at a similar date.”
Vaccination numbers continues to rise across the nation by the day. Still, social-distancing protocols could be in place this coming season, as well as mask mandates. Will fans need to show proof of vaccination to attend games at Purdue next season?
“I don't know if we're going to get there or not,” said Bobinski. “I don't like that, to be honest. It just doesn't feel right to me.
“But on the other hand, I don't get to make that decision. I think that will be done somewhere beyond me and more of a broad society kind of decision-making that we'll have to either follow along with or not. I don't know that having to show an ID card to come into a game feels all that kosher to me. That just doesn't feel very good to me.”
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