Governor Sisolak OKs limited capacity for sports events, eyes plan with NIAA

Lawlor Events Center
Lawlor Events Center will be allowed limited capacity this season. (Byrne Photo/Nevada athletics)

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced Tuesday he would allow fans at sporting events as long as attendance doesn't exceed 10 percent of the stadium's total fixed-seating capacity.

That plan would apply to Nevada Wolf Pack and UNLV Rebels events as well as at USL soccer matches.

Sisolak's regulation has previously limited gatherings at 50 people, but those were relaxed this week as Nevada prepares to start its football and basketball seasons on Oct. 24 and Nov. 25, respectively. Reno 1868 FC has one more regular-season home match Wednesday but will host playoff games as long as it clinches the top seed in Group A (it only needs one more point).

Plans must be submitted and approved by state government, with no more than 250 people per area with social distancing guidelines to be followed at all times. Governor Sisolak said a qualifying large venue must submit a "large gathering COVID preparedness and safety plan" to local health authorities for review. The plan must be submitted to the appropriate state oversight authority for approval, and only the state can approve larger gatherings.

"We're thankful for the news today from Governor Sisolak and state leadership," Wolf Pack athletic director Doug Knuth said in a news release. "With the directive of 10 percent capacity, we are fine-tuning our plans and procedures for this limited capacity model and will submit to the proper agencies. Once approved, we'll be able to share those details and our ticketing procedures."

Mackay Stadium has a capacity of 27,000 fans, which would allow 2,700 fans for home games. Lawlor Events Center's capacity of 11,536 pencils out to roughly 1,150 fans per home game. Greater Nevada Field's capacity is 9,534, although a good chunk of that is berm seating that wouldn't qualify as "fixed-seating capacity." With 6,500 fixed individual stadium seats, Greater Nevada Field's 10 percent capacity would be 650.

"It's the moment we've all been waiting for," Reno 1868 FC president Eric Edelstein tweeted. "@greaternvfield is back, baby! (well almost, we still have to get our already written plan approved by the proper authorities which we are confident we will get done shortly)."

Sisolak also announced he is working with the NIAA on a return-to-the-field plan and is hopeful to make an announcement on that front in the next 7-10 days. The NIAA pushed fall sports to March in July, although it has received major pushback for not allowing football to be played this fall.

If a plan is approved in the next week, a fall football season could be executed, although that wouldn't allow much time for a training camp. Assuming a three-week training camp, which is on the short side of things (the Pac-12 said six weeks of training camp is the most safe), local high school football teams could potentially play a roughly eight-week football season in November and December.

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