HUNTINGTON — While Marshall University football fans will not be allowed to tailgate outside on property in and around Joan C. Edwards Stadium for the entire 2020 season, local officials are also discouraging pregame gatherings elsewhere.
“The Cabell-Huntington Health Department is working with Marshall University and West Virginia Bureau for Public Health partners to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread associated with gatherings,” Dr. Michael Kilkenny said in an email to The Herald-Dispatch. “We are asking people who are attending the September 5 Marshall-EKU football game to refrain from tailgating.”
Kilkenny said tailgating events can spread COVID-19, and if they violate the state’s guidelines limiting gatherings to 25 people or fewer, it could result in enforcement action.
The Thundering Herd will host the Eastern Kentucky Colonels at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN. Marshall’s athletics department announced on Thursday that tailgating would be prohibited on university property.
“We have a great following within Herd Nation, and we expect our fans to act responsibly and follow the guidelines established by the Governor’s Office for large gatherings,” Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said. “If the Huntington Police Department is asked by the Cabell-Huntington Health Department to advise individuals that they need to disperse because their gathering is in excess of the governor’s guidelines, we will assist the health department in the same fashion we have for the past six months.”
Williams said the city’s police officers have not had to write a citation for gatherings in excess of the established guidelines, no matter what the gathering size limit has been.
“Once our officers have spoken to individuals or a business, they have cooperated fully and adjusted accordingly,” he said.
All university lots are scheduled to open at 11 a.m. and will be monitored by security staff and law enforcement, according to the university.
“Those entities will be prepared to enforce this decision for those who refuse to comply,” the release said.
Because of COVID-19 guidelines, fans are not allowed to loiter or assemble in the parking lot.
The university has said face coverings, including masks and gaiters, are required to be properly worn at entry to the stadium and in all areas throughout the game. Masks are allowed to be removed only to take a bite of food or for a drink.
To comply with social distancing guidelines, season ticket holders will be relocated in the stadium. A limited number of single-game tickets were available because of reduced capacity overall. Under the university’s guidelines, the student section is also limited, with mandated spacing.
Fans opting to leave the stadium are not allowed to come back in with the same ticket.
“We are hopeful that by following the attendance policies established for the game, the safety of the players and the public can be protected and the benefits of college athletics for the student-athletes and fans can be realized,” Kilkenny said.