The University of Nebraska Omaha will allow 50% capacity at sporting venues moving forward, according to Gov. Pete Ricketts.
Due to COVID-19, UNO and the city of Omaha have developed a plan regarding the safety of fans, athletes and staff. Originally, venues could only be held at 25% capacity, but on Monday, Gov. Pete Ricketts stated venues can now hold up to half capacity.
“The 50% capacity definitely helps us in going in the right direction,” UNO Assistant Athletic Director Beau Brown said.
At half capacity, almost 4,000 fans will have the opportunity to attend live sporting events at Baxter Arena, home to Mavericks hockey, basketball, and volleyball. However, having a smaller crowd means having to decide who is able to obtain tickets to UNO events.
With almost as many season ticket holders as seats available, UNO has to determine who will get to attend games and when. “We have about 3,600 season ticket holders for hockey. So obviously that therein lies a little bit of a difficult situation,” Brown said.
The UNO athletic department has yet to determine who will get priority seating and will weigh a lot of different options to be fair with all fans and ticket holders.
“We were in a difficult situation thereof having to decide who would come, would it be a split between Friday and Saturday night?” Brown said.
Less attendance means lower revenue for the university, so UNO must be cost-effective going into the fall. “We have to be cost-effective on the purchases that we do make and be sensitive to some of those things as a department,” Brown said.
He said plans are constantly shifting and the athletic marketing department is working nonstop to come up with fan interaction ideas. Recently, UNO has promoted its sports teams through photo and video-based posts on social media accounts.
“You’ll definitely see an increased presence on their social media for marketing purposes, doing anything that we can to keep our fans engaged during this downtime.”
The University plans on staying flexible in the next few months. The future of COVID-19 is unknown, so UNO is in a “holding pattern” to see if the governor has any new recommendations.
“At the end of the day, our student-athletes are our number one priority,” Brown said. “We’re going through everything just to make sure that it’s safe as possible for not only our fans but our student-athletes.”