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Governor Wolf To Allow Fans In Stadiums, Penn State’s Fate Unclear

Update, 11 a.m.: Penn State Athletics said it doesn’t plan on bringing fans to Beaver Stadium this fall but could accommodate student-athletes’ families thanks to the new policy.

“We are aware the Governor has updated his guidance on large gatherings related to sporting events. This updated directive on stadium capacity will most directly allow families of our football student-athletes and essential staff involved in the game day operation to be present this fall,” an Athletics spokesperson said. “We are pleased to be able to accommodate those closest to our football program and enable them to cheer on their family members. The Big Ten’s guidelines of families only will not permit us to welcome additional fans to Beaver Stadium in 2020.”

Original Story: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced Tuesday he’ll allow outdoor sporting events to fill to 15% capacity up to a maximum of 7,500 fans.

Wolf’s policy will go into effect on Friday, October 9. Once it’s implemented, it’ll be up to local officials to determine whether or not fans may attend sporting events.

The state will use a new “maximum occupancy calculator” to determine each indoor or outdoor venue’s potential capacity. Outdoor events top out at 7,500 attendees, while indoor events are capped at 3,750.

Venues are required to follow social distancing guidelines and enforce mask-wearing for all attendees.

“Pennsylvanians must continue to social distance and wear masks as we prepare to fight the virus through the fall and winter,” Wolf said. “Regardless of the size of an event or gathering, those things are still imperative to stopping the spread of COVID. We know everyone has sacrificed in many ways and today’s announcement reflects a gradual adjustment to our lives as we learn how we can do things safely until we have a cure, or an effective vaccine is widely available.”

Wolf’s announcement reiterated gathering restrictions already implemented by local authorities, “such as the ones established in Philadelphia and State College,” will remain in effect.

At this time, it’s unclear how, if at all, Wolf’s policy change will affect Penn State football. When the Big Ten reinstated its season in September, its 14 members unanimously agreed to move forward without fans in stadiums. Barring a reversal, it seems unlikely the conference would make exceptions for individual teams.

Penn State Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour explicitly stated fans wouldn’t be attending sporting events this fall. She also said all tailgates would be prohibited.

“We’ve made a decision as a conference not to have fans out of an abundance of caution,” Barbour said on September 17. “We’re really asking our Penn State nation to cheer us on, you know, have small home personal pods, watch parties, but do it safely.”

Penn State Athletics did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wolf’s announcement.

We’ll update this post with more information as it becomes available.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt is a junior majoring in journalism and Onward State's managing editor. He's a huge Philadelphia sports fan, fantasy football aficionado, and washed-up drummer hailing from Collegeville, Pa. The quickest way to his heart is Margherita pizza. He loves Seinfeld, is really into video games, and would wipe the floor with you in Halo. Follow him on Twitter @mattdisanto_ for bad sports takes or email him at [email protected]

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