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Iowa State University President Reverses Decision On Football Fans

Jack Trice Stadium at Iowa State University will not have fans for the football game on Sept. 12, a reversal of the decision announced Monday.

Iowa State University’s Jack Trice Stadium will have no fans for the Cyclones’ home opener on Sept. 12.

The Wednesday announcement comes after the school was widely criticized for its plan to allow 25,000 season-ticket holders to attend the game, with masks and social-distancing requirements.

In a statement, Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard said university president Wendy Wintersteen informed him Tuesday that she had reversed her earlier decision to allow fans. The plan to open the stadium to Cyclone supporters grew widespread criticism from the Ames and Iowa State communities and media attention from national outlets including the Washington Post and Sports Illustrated.

Pollard added, “Although it is disappointing there won't be fans at the opener, our institution's leadership team is still committed to having spectators at future games, if it can done safely.”

Story County, where the university is located, and Iowa have been experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases since the academic year began last month.

Season ticket holder Dan Divine has attended Cyclone football games for decades but he was surprised when he heard 25,000 fans would be allowed.

"But happy at the same time, and then disappointed today when the news came out that they weren’t going to have any," he said. Still, the pandemic already was going to keep him and his wife out of the stands this season.

"We had made the decision earlier to actually not attend the games this year, first time in a long time," he said, adding that ISU had been communicating with season ticket holders as the season approached. They were given the option to attend games if that was possible, to get a refund for their tickets or to offer their tickets as a tax-deductible donation to ISU athletics if they didn't want to use them. Regardless, they would be able to purchase their usual seats for the 2021 season, which is an exception to the usual rules for maintaining season ticket seats.

Pollard left open the possibility of having fans at future games.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and make a decision regarding fans for the Oklahoma game (Oct. 3) at a later date,” his statement said.

The reversal came less than two hours after Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds defended allowing fans, which would have been the largest gathering in Iowa since the pandemic closures began in March.

“It’s 25,000 out of a capacity of 61,500. It is outdoors," Reynolds said at a press conference. “If you don’t think it’s safe, don’t go.”

The Cyclones game against Louisiana Lafayette will be televised on ESPN.

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames