LSU football: With limited capacity in Tiger Stadium, who gets in?
BATON ROUGE — Tiger Stadium will be transformed from "Deaf Valley" to "Distant Valley" for No. 5 LSU's season opener against Mississippi State on Sept. 26.
With 25 percent of capacity allowed because of COVID-19 precautions, there will be about 25,580 spaced out fans in the 102,321-seat stadium for the 2:30 p.m. kickoff on CBS.
Spaced out meaning social distanced, not the other one, as LSU announced Thursday that alcohol will not be sold in the stadium after LSU just began alcohol sales in Tiger Stadium for the first time last season. There will also be no tailgating all season, except for fans being allowed to gather at their car after parking with those who rode with them.
LSU's athletic department has been busy doing the math since the 25 percent limit was announced on Wednesday. LSU has 71,000 season ticket holders among a fan base more rabid than usual after the Tigers' historic, 15-0 national championship season of 2019-20.
"We're working the numbers," LSU ticket manager Brian Broussard said Friday morning.
"If you are a season ticket holder opting in for this season, you will get tickets," associate athletic director Robert Munson said. "How many tickets you get is the question."
As of end of business Friday, approximately 65 percent of LSU's 71,000 season ticket account holders — a total of 46,150 — had opted out of the 2020 season, Broussard said. That makes Broussard's job easier. The deadline to opt out was 5 p.m. Friday.
"Over 70 percent of the people who are opting out are just rolling their money (ticket and licensing payments) for this season to next season," Broussard said. "We're hearing that many fans don't want to be a part of the experience this season because it's not going to be the same. Tiger Stadium is at its best when it's full.'"
Fans opting out can also be refunded for this season or they can use the money toward a donation to the Tiger Athletic Foundation fundraising arm for LSU athletics, which is expected to lose a significant amount of money this fiscal year due to the pandemic.
In normal years, fans get one TAF point for every $1,000 donated. Now, they can get five points for every $1,000 donated for higher ticket point rankings in the future.
As of Friday, the most football-thirsty fans remained with 24,850 opt-ins, plus another 3,500 fans coming, which includes 2,500 students, 500 LSU band members, and 500 tickets allotted for Mississippi State.
That puts LSU at 28,350 ticket accounts, meaning 2,770 are left for opt-outs or elimination.
"We're still in the range of 28,000 to 30,000 that we're trying to work with," Broussard said. "That's where we are. Once we started telling people all the rules and requirements to going to the game and with the 25 percent announcement Wednesday, we've seen an influx of opt-outs."
Physical distancing will be mandatory. Face masks must be worn at all times except for eating and drinking — but not alcohol.
"Phones were pretty busy Thursday with the news of no alcohol at the games," Broussard said. "So, I think people are still absorbing that and deciding what they're going to do. The no alcohol is just for game one. We're hoping that will be lifted."
Season ticket account holders with two tickets stand the best chance to keep all their tickets. For those with 10 or more, they will likely lose tickets, though TAF point standing can help them keep more and get them better seats.
Single game tickets will not be available.
"It's looking now with the opt-outs, everyone's going to get at least two," Broussard said. "There'll be some people getting more. It will all be based on the opt-outs and what they previously had. If they had two last season, they'd be looking pretty good. If they had 10 or more, they're probably going to lose some."
Efforts will be made to keep tickets in the new spread alignment as close to original seats as possible.
"Having to space everyone out makes it certain that everyone's seats are definitely going to move around," Broussard said. "We're going to try to keep the integrity of your seat, but they're definitely going to move."
Broussard stressed that if fans receive tickets for the season opener, then they should expect to receive tickets for the remaining four home games:
- Missouri, Oct. 10 ... TV, kickoff To Be Announced
- South Carolina, Oct. 24 ... TV, kickoff TBA
- Alabama, Nov. 14 ... CBS, 5 p.m.
- Ole Miss, Dec. 5 ... TV, kickoff TBA
"The most questions we've received are related to whether or not they're going to get all five games," he said. "And that's our intent. If they get tickets, they're going to get all five games. It's not going to be packages. We want to make that clear."