SAN MARCOS – The Texas State Bobcats football program ushered in a new season Saturday in what was ultimately a 31-24 hard-fought loss to SMU. But the season opener at Bobcat Stadium looked different from years prior: the athletic department implemented several new health and safety measures designed to combat COVID-19 this football season.
Spectators and staff entered Saturday’s game to the tune of mandated face coverings and social distance markers. Seating for the September 5 contest was also limited to 25% capacity with reserved seating taking the place of general admission to help with social distance efforts. Paul Borreson, a member of the Bobcats basketball program from 1977-80, has been impressed with the rollout of the changes.
“All the functions leading up, tailgating, that’s all changed but I thought they’ve done a great job,” he said. “I mean they followed all the rules to the T.”
Concessions operations as well as stadium subcontractors are also taking the health and safety measures seriously. Cashless sales, menu changes and worker temperature and symptom checks are part of the initiative. Steven Granados, the Director of Marketing and Guest Experience for Chartwells Higher Education, caterer and concessions vendor for Texas State Athletics, said the company has installed protective barriers and QR codes in place of menus.
“One of the most important things is sanitation and disinfecting. Our team is sanitizing every 30 minutes – all the high-touch points, the countertops, everything,” Granados said.
Additional measures include sanitization stations placed throughout the concourse, limited bathroom capacity and assigned entry gates. Fans and staff are also expected to self-screen for symptoms. Ultimately, many feel the enhanced measures are a small sacrifice in order to enjoy college football again.
“I’m super impressed,” said Strutters Captain and Texas State senior, Macey Phillips. “I’m excited – I’m glad that we’re rolling. I know not a lot of other universities are as capable of doing what we’re doing today so I’m super excited and hope that it works out.”