LOUISVILLE, Ky. — When the Louisville Cardinals men’s basketball team tips off Wednesday afternoon, they’ll do so in front of a much smaller crowd than usual, but one that is expected to be no less passionate than before.
Under the current plan that has been approved by Gov. Andy Beshear’s office, the KFC Yum! Center will allow 15% of its regular capacity, meaning around 3,000 fans will be allowed in the 22,090-seat arena.
Multiple safety measures are being implemented, many which mirror the measures already used at Cardinal Stadium for UofL football games. Guests will have their temperatures taken at the entrances and will only be allowed to use clear bags in order to limit contact during security screenings. All ticketing will be done through mobile and concession stands will not accept cash.
Fans will also be required to wear a mask at all times when inside the arena.
“We will enforce this,” KFC Yum! Center General Manager Eric Granger said. “Anyone that’s not actively eating or drinking will be reminded to please put on their face mask. After one reminder, they will be asked to leave the venue. We have to do this to ensure we can get to more games.”
Seats have also been blocked off to promote distancing among fans. Plexiglass barriers have been set up around parts of the floor to allow fans to get closer to the court.
The teams’ bench areas have also been changed with several chairs set up in a staggered formation to ensure space between them. According to UofL Athletic Director Vince Tyra, each team will be allowed up to 34 individuals on the floor area, which includes players, coaches and support staff. All coaches and support staff will also be required to wear face masks at all times. Cheerleaders and band members will not be allowed on the floor like in years past.
The lower bowl seats have already sold out for the season, though there are some suite tickets still available as of Monday afternoon.
Tyra said these changes will likely remain in place for the duration of the season.
“We don’t foresee that the vaccine at this point, nor does the medical advisor for the conference foresee the vaccine would be here in time to eliminate this setup," Tyra said. "So our hope is we get this full season in and this is the setup we’ll have.”
Arena staff is working with VenueShield, which has also been used at Lynn Family Stadium for Louisville City FC games this year.
The Cardinals will tip off at 4 p.m. Wednesday against the Evansville Purple Aces in the Wade Houston Tip-Off Classic.