USC football is preparing to play games at the Coliseum this year with limited capacity.
The good news? USC football is preparing to play games in 2020.
The bad news? Those games will likely come in stadiums with a cap on capacity.
In an email to season ticket holders on Tuesday, athletic director Mike Bohn confirmed the program is “preparing for the possibility that fans will be permitted to attend games this year in a reduced capacity Coliseum.”
The AD also warned that any plans are “subject to change” as USC responds to “all state and local health and safety guidelines.”
What is USC football’s plan for lowered capacity at the Coliseum?
On Wednesday, season ticket holders will receive a more detailed outline of the first step in preparing for such an outcome.
The Coliseum’s capacity dropped from over 90,000 to 77,500 as a result of recent renovations. If the Trojans settle on 50 percent capacity to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, just under 40,000 fans would be able to attend the six home games scheduled for the coming season. The first is coming up against New Mexico on Sept. 12.
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Capacity could be lowered even further, depending on what the state of California and the city of Los Angeles dictate.
It’s also not yet clear how a reduction of capacity would be settled. Students will have to be taken into account, especially as they prepare for a semester of on-campus learning amid coronavirus fears. Season ticket holders will have to be placated as well.
At least this isn’t an era when USC was filling the Coliseum in any case. The close of the 2019 season had many fans threatening to cancel their season tickets in defiance of Bohn’s decision to keep head coach Clay Helton employed. It’ll be a bit easier to follow through on threats to not attend USC games if tickets become harder to find.
USC’s lowest home attendance figure for the 2019 season was 53,826 against Arizona. Attendance for the Arizona State home game in 2018 at 47,406 was the lowest since 2001.
In fact, the Trojans haven’t played before a home crowd of less than 40,000 since 1987, when rain and general disappointment produced an attendance figure of just 24,834 for a win over Washington State.