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Sports venues investigate re-opening strategies

Stadia and arenas across the globe are looking into how to re-open with fans following the coronavirus pandemic.

In the UK, Surrey County Cricket Club are investigating the possibility of playing in front of a reduced-capacity crowd at The Oval in London at some point this summer.

Chief executive Richard Gould said the county are looking into whether they could safely allow up to 6,000 spectators into the ground. Gould told BBC Sport:

There is work ongoing but at a very gentle pace. One of the issues cricket has is we can only play in the summer. Therefore, we’d like to understand possibilities of getting fans in later on in the summer.

But we’re not going to do anything that doesn’t get full clearance. We’re not going to do anything other than follow government guidelines.

The 25% capacity is something we’ve been looking at from other sporting venues. It may end up having to be lower than that. Open air, sitting outside, at some stage may be perceived as different to sitting inside.

We want to spread some optimism. If we can provide a little bit of positive leadership that’d be great.

The Oval has a capacity of 25,500 spectators and regularly sells out for international fixtures and T20 Blast matches.

There has been no cricket played in England since the coronavirus pandemic halted competitive sport in March.

The Oval was due to host the first Test of the summer between England and the West Indies at the start of June, but the season is on hold until at least 1 July.

Meanwhile Northamptonshire have said they are hoping to host T20 Blast matches in front of reduced crowds of around 1,500 fans this summer.

Iowa State University

In the US, Iowa State University has revealed plans to play collegiate football this season in front of 30,000 fans.

Athletics director Jamie Pollard wrote to fans announcing that the school will limit the number of fans at Cyclone home games, citing current guidelines set by state and local officials.

Pollard said Jack Trice Stadium, which seats 61,500, will open its gates to 30,000 fans in 2020. He told the Des Moines Register:

Because we expect to reach the 50% capacity limitation through season ticket sales, we do not anticipate selling single-game tickets unless the capacity limits are raised. Those guidelines may be adjusted as time passes. Right now, we are planning as though the capacity of our stadium would be limited to 30,000 spectators.

Image: The band of the Scots Guards play at The Oval during The Ashes series in 2019