JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The games will look the same, but changes are everywhere in high school sports this year.
Digital tickets. Face coverings. Social distancing. Significantly reduced crowds.
Welcome to 2020.
So grab your face covering and have those QR codes ready to scan at the ticket booths, football season is here.
The area is set for its first big stage of the year on Friday night when the bulk of football teams in the area kick off their regular seasons. There were a handful of games last week, but the majority of teams opted to begin their seasons this week.
Most schools and districts — Baker and Charlton counties are two that haven’t — in the area have opted to limit capacity for games, so the stands won’t be nearly as full. Some schools are limiting attendance to 20% (Bishop Kenny and both schools in Flagler County). Others, like Bolles, are only permitting parents and siblings of players to attend. But most schools have settled on numbers anywhere between 20 and 50% of a stadium’s capacity.
What does that look like on a Friday night? For a look at what those percentages translate to in actual fans, take a look at these totals.
That is certainly a disappointing number when it comes to rivalry games, of which this week has several of.
A Bartram Trail-Creekside or Nease-Ponte Vedra football game would draw in excess of 3,000 fans, depending on who is serving as host. This year, attendance is capped at 600 for both of those games. A Trinity Christian-Bolles showdown would pack the stadium, too, with similar numbers. That game, hosted by Trinity, will have a limit of 1,500.
The biggest changes come in the form of ticketing. Walk-up ticket sales are mostly a thing of the pre-pandemic past, with schools opting for the digital route. Schools will likely still offer any leftover tickets for purchase on the day of the game, but with limited tickets to start with, that’s a risky bet.
On Ticket Spicket, fans should click on the Buy Ticket Link and then search for the school. Go Fan is similar. Type in the school you’re looking for and there will be a list of events to purchase tickets to. Costs vary and you should plan to pay a convenience-type fee, too.
More streaming options are on the board this year as well.
Not able to make it to the Trinity-Bolles game on Friday night? Live streaming that game can be purchased here.
The NFHS Network carries games, too, and quite a few area schools plan on streaming games on that platform this season. Among some of the games being streamed on there this week include Ponte Vedra-Nease, Menendez-White, Bartram Trail-Creekside, Crescent City-Villages, Bishop Kenny-Episcopal and Union County-Dixie County.