TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - After taking a vote Thursday evening, Sept. 24, the Pac-12 Conference announced the return of fall sports, starting with football on Nov. 6.
The decision generated of lot of excitement.
While games will be held at the University of Arizona this season, the stands are going to be empty. Fans have to sit this one out. That could be a good thing for sports bars, though.
As soon as he heard college football is coming back, Jonathan Graham started planning for game day at Frog and Firkin.
“Usually you get the news; you get the article ‘Students are getting a 14-day quarantine.' OK, that’s something new to deal with,” said the general manager of Frog and Firkin. “Well, [this is] actually kind of positive.”
Graham says it will bring in some much-needed revenue, even as they continue to operate at half capacity.
“It’s a little bit of a boost,” said Graham. “[I’m] more excited that when the kids go away during Thanksgiving, we are going to have three weeks of good, solid football to maybe draw the older crowd down.”
Retail businesses selling Wildcat apparel are also hoping for an increase in revenue.
After the announcement, the University of Arizona released a statement thanking Pac-12.
“Our student-athletes and their peers across the Pac-12 are among the most dedicated and disciplined members of the university community. We know they have the capacity to follow basic public health guidelines proven to minimize the spread of COVID-19, reinforced by our capacity to test quickly and affordably, and our strong partnerships with local health officials,” said University President, Dr. Robert Robbins. “I am confident this plan to bring back fall sports can be successful. This step will provide a much-needed morale boost for the Arizona community and our fans around the nation, and it will give our student population an experience that many of them look forward to when they choose to attend the University of Arizona. Bear Down and Mask Up!”
The decision also brings with it some concerns about tailgating parties.
“We are in conversations with University of Arizona Athletics,” said Caitlin Jensen, a spokewoman for the Pima County Health Department. “We continue to discourage any events or gatherings with people who do not live in the same home, especially where physical distancing or wearing a face mask may be difficult.”
Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik warns the start of football is “not a signal for students that it’s party time and the COVID-19 restrictions are no longer in place.” He says the infection rates are alarmingly high in areas around campus.
“Restaurants are one of the safest places you can be in because we are being scrutinized all the time. Not only by the health department, the CDC, government guidelines, police walking by, concerned citizens with a phone. If anything, you’re better off than at a house party, somewhere without guidelines,” said Graham. “We’re going to do it safe; we are going to do it right."