Will fans be allowed at the Liberty Bowl? Answer is expected soon

Letter to Memphis Tigers says further reduction to fan attendance is on the horizon

By , Daily Memphian Updated: July 24, 2020 10:25 AM CT | Published: July 24, 2020 9:49 AM CT

One of the biggest questions regarding the potential college football season is will fans be allowed to attend games?

For Memphis Tigers fans that answer will occur sooner than later.

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Athletic director Laird Veatch stated in a letter sent to fans: “Unfortunately, among many uncertainties, we are concerned that further reductions in capacity at home events could be on the horizon. ... In the coming weeks, if not days, we will have clear guidance on how fan participation will be impacted at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.”

If the tone of the letter is any indication, Memphis fans should brace themselves for limited seating.

The rest of the letter is below:

Dear Tiger Nation:

I hope that this letter finds you and your family healthy and safe during such an unprecedented time in our history. I am writing to you today to provide an update on where we have been, where we are, and what the near-term future may look like for Memphis Athletics.

Obviously, the last few months have been challenging. Our industry has been working diligently to find the right solutions for student-athlete, staff and fan safety, and we are committed to that ideal. We are also working to mitigate the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our student-athletes, staff, University and community. As was announced by American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco, as a league, we are committed to frequent testing, mitigating exposure and making smart decisions that take all the various elements into account.

Our focus is also to build a financial future that will sustain our recent momentum on the field of play, in the community and in the classroom. As you know, we rely heavily on ticket sales and donations to the Tiger Scholarship Fund to support the efforts of our student-athletes and coaches. Combined, donations and ticket revenue are the Tigers’ largest revenue aspects of the annual budget. As we shared in other recent communications, it is clear that social distancing requirements will have a significant impact on our ticket sales capacity and Tiger Scholarship Fund revenues, among other projected losses. While the full realization of those impacts remains uncertain, we have proactively identified $4.4M in budget reductions, including a 14% reduction in administrative and sports operational budgets.

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Unfortunately, among many uncertainties, we are concerned that further reductions in capacity at home events could be on the horizon. Candidly, without ticket and donation revenue in line with our current projections, the next round of cuts could have severe and potentially long-term impacts on our people and programs.

The safety of the student-athletes, coaches and staff remains our top priority. Support of their well-being is not being taken lightly. But, the well-being of student-athletes includes academic, medical, nutritional and athletic support that comes from the revenues derived from many of our home events. This is why we are so committed to trying to find a safe solution to have home events, in-line with the health guidance protocols.

I am proud of our staff’s efforts to provide the safest possible environment for our student-athletes through the pandemic. In many cases, the support structure we provide is better than some may have at home or otherwise.

Similarly, our efforts with partners at the City of Memphis, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and the Shelby County Health Department will ensure the safest possible solution for our fans. But, we cannot eliminate all risk. Just like we do for the safety of the student-athletes, we will employ best practices and ask you, as fans, to do your part as well. It is with that same spirit that we seek to have competitions as soon as we can safely do so.

In the coming weeks, if not days, we will have clear guidance on how fan participation will be impacted at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. As we have stated previously, our goal remains to seat all fans that purchased their season tickets by the June 30 seating deadline and our current budget is based on those resources remaining stable. We have been developing contingency plans, and if that goal becomes unattainable for any number of potential reasons, we will communicate our adjusted plan with you as soon as possible. Clear options for your consideration will be outlined.We appreciate your support and understanding as we steadfastly seek the proper balance of health and fiscal responsibility. We will continue to work to ensure that our events are safe for our fans, student-athletes, coaches and staff. We will continue to work to ensure that we have the fiscal means to sustain the safety, health and well-being of our student-athletes.We will also continue to be transparent and update you as changes occur. While it will not be easy, we will get through this together. Memphians always rise-up when hard work needs to be done. And, because of that spirit, we will come through this on the other side stronger than ever.Thank you and Go Tigers Go!


COVID-19 University of Memphis 2020 Tiger football Liberty Bowl
Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson

Johnson is a Memphis native who graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 2016. He's traveled the country covering teams like Syracuse, the Buffalo Bills and the Memphis Grizzlies. He's excited about the opportunity to cover the Tigers and all things in the city of Memphis.


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