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Columbus Crew Will Allow Up To 1,500 Spectators At Sunday's Game

Columbus Crew supporters at the Nordecke fan section on September 29, 2019.
Adora Namigadde
Columbus Crew supporters at the Nordecke fan section on September 29, 2019.

MAPFRE Stadium will come to life again with spectators Sunday night, when the Columbus Crew SC will host FC Cincinnati at 7:30 p.m. But space is limited to just 1,500 spectators, because of health precautions due to the ongoing pandemic.

In a press release, Crew officials explain that season ticket members will receive access to tickets based on tenure. Spectators will also have to wear masks and maintain six feet of distancing between seating pods. No tailgating will be allowed in the stadium parking lots.

“We are pleased to be able to welcome back an extremely limited number of supporters to MAPFRE Stadium for our upcoming rivalry match this weekend and we are prepared to execute our Responsible Restart Plan,” said Crew SC president Tim Bezbatchenko in a press release. “The health and safety of all individuals entering the building remains our top priority to ensure a safe continuation of the 2020 MLS season.”

MAPFRE has a capacity of just under 20,000 fans, although the average attendance for home games during the Crew's 2019 season was about 15,000.

Under Gov. Mike DeWine's health order for sports venues, capacity at outdoor venues is limited to 1,500 fans or 15% of the arena's fixed seated capacity. Some sports teams, including the Cleveland Browns, have requested a variance to allow thousands more fans to attend.

The Crew says it consulted several groups to establish health and safety protocols, including Populous, a leading sports architecture firm and venue reconfiguration expert, government health officials and Major League Soccer and their experts.

Columbus Crew restarted its season in June at the "MLS Is Back" tournament in Florida, but fell to Minnesota United during the knockout round at the end of July. After the tournament, Major League Soccer continued with an 18-game regular season, and plans to hold playoffs in November.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.