Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
VCU Athletics will trim the capacity for men’s and women’s basketball games to accommodate Virginia’s new COVID-19 restrictions, the department announced on Tuesday.
The Stuart C. Siegel Center, which holds more than 7,000 fans, was set to host 1,000 spectators to start the season. Virginia’s coronavirus guidelines allowed up to 1,000 fans in sporting events, but that cap dropped on Monday to 250 spectators.
“We regret that we cannot have our usual full capacity to start the men’s basketball season,” said Ed McLaughlin, director of athletics. “Our loyal, dedicated fans make our home games the best environment in college basketball and we will miss everyone who cannot attend in person.”
A statement from the department said a limited number of tickets will be made available to VCU students and guests of student-athletes. Approximately 175 seats will be reserved for season ticket holders.
Season ticket holders will receive notice by Wednesday, Nov. 18 if they qualify for the updated capacity model. Those who don’t qualify can transfer their season ticket donation to a Ram Athletic Fund gift or request a refund.
Seating will be socially distanced, and a buffer zone in the front rows will create distance between spectators and players.
Arena restrictions were part of Gov. Ralph Northam’s response to rising COVID-19 case numbers in the commonwealth. Bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol by 10 p.m. and close by midnight. The state’s gathering limit for indoor and outdoor events is now 25 individuals, but the cap does not apply to gyms, churches or sporting events.
Men’s basketball has sold out more than 150 straight games, dating back to the 2011 season. The streak is not in jeopardy as the university will recognize sellouts with the reduced attendance.
VCU Athletics said if guidance from the state changes, then it will adjust accordingly.
Men’s basketball’s home opener is Dec. 5 against Mount St. Mary’s at 2 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN+.