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Tennessee may limit Neyland Stadium capacity to 25 percent

UT Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer said a commission is currently working on safety precautions for an estimated 25,000 fans who will be permitted inside Neyland.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — UT Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer gave a glimpse into how social distancing could look at Neyland Stadium this fall. 

Those changes include limiting Neyland Stadium capacity to 25 percent. 

Fulmer also confirmed during a news conference on Tuesday in Nashville that beloved game-day traditions like Vol Walk would probably not happen because they are not safe for everyone.  

Tailgating for the 2020 football season has already been canceled by the university. 

At full capacity, Neyland Stadium holds 102,455 fans. 

When asked how the university planned to accommodate an estimated 25,000 fans who are anticipated to return to the stadium once football season starts, Fulmer said his commission is still planning it out. 

"We’re well into the planning of that and social distancing," Fulmer said. "The number is 25,000 as we spread out. Staffing will be the same as I fit were full." 

Fulmer said he expects the university will lose an estimated $30 to $40 million dollar loss due to the pandemic when it comes to football. 

The SEC has created guidelines in the conference as teams prepare for football season. 

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said the guidelines were adopted as baseline recommendations.

"Although local and state guidelines will determine if and how many fans can attend games, these guidelines provide conference-wide expectations for protection of guests who are able to attend our games," Sankey said.

The conference said institutions may adopt additional procedures and protocols consistent with their specific needs and circumstances.

Some highlights include:

  • Guests will be required to wear face masks (over the nose and mouth) while inside the stadium and anytime social distancing is not possible.
  • Attendance will be limited based on local/state guidelines or CDC recommendations for gatherings.
  • Stadiums will be required to install barriers at concessions stands, and 'grab-and-go' options are recommended.
  • Extra signage will be posted in and out of the stadium
  • Entry and exits points will be designated for bathrooms

The full list of guidelines can be found on the SEC website.

The University of Tennessee said there will be no university-organized tailgating on campus for football games.

RELATED: UTK Chancellor: No university-organized tailgating on campus for football games

The SEC previously announced its initial COVID-19 management requirements for the fall athletics season as recommended by the SEC's Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force, focused on safety measures for student-athletes and others in direct contact with student-athletes in all sports.

RELATED: SEC announces new COVID-19 safety measures for f

Students are hoping they're included in the fans allowed inside, from freshmen attending their first game to seniors wanting to attend their last.

"Tennessee football is huge so we were really excited to get that experience," said freshman Alexis Lynch. 

"Definitely I think students and ticket holders need first dibs. I mean students, we're their fans that's why we're here," said freshman Harley Boyatt.

The students know it will be different, but want to be included as much as they can be. 

"It's going to take away a lot of the energy, but in the long-run, you can't really help it. It has to be done. I understand but at the same time it's kind of a bummer," said senior Isaak Bing.

The Student Government Association said in a statement they "support the necessary decisions to keep our volunteer community safe and will follow director Fulmer's lead as we continue to help regulate Neyland's student section to a safe capacity." 

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