Big schools make plans to allow fans into football games this week


Around 1,000 fans are expected to be able to attend games at Kiggins Bowl and McKenzie Stadium on Thursday

Two ladders. A long piece of lumber. And just like that, an instant “bleacher” if you will.

Angie Beaver, Jennie Martin, Darby Stromberg, and Jennifer Olney just needed a bit of a boost, to get a sightline over the fence outside of Kiggins Bowl last week, to get a better view of the Skyview football game.

That is life as a high school football fan during the pandemic.

Angie Beavers, Jennie Martin, Darby Stromberg, and Jennifer Olney came prepared last week to be able to watch a Skyview football game over the fence at Kiggins Bowl. This week, more fans will be allowed inside stadiums. Photo by Mike Schultz
Angie Beavers, Jennie Martin, Darby Stromberg, and Jennifer Olney came prepared last week to be able to watch a Skyview football game over the fence at Kiggins Bowl. This week, more fans will be allowed inside stadiums. Photo by Mike Schultz

While small schools in Clark County have been allowing a limited number of fans, the bigger schools in the region have been playing in front of no fans in the stadiums. So fans have become creative, finding spots just outside the fences of McKenzie Stadium, Kiggins Bowl, District Stadium, and the like.

Well, starting this week, those Skyview supporters won’t have to build their improvised stadium seats. They will get to sit in Kiggins Bowl when Skyview takes on Evergreen … well, as long as they are invited by the participants. (Word of advice to Skyview players: Invite your mom!)

Last week, the governor surprised many, including area athletic directors, by announcing that the state would be moving into Phase 3 on the road to recovery.

It turns out, that announcement meant a lot to high school football fans.

“Not only are football parents happy, but we’re able to bring in full cheer squads and we’re able to bring in bands,” said Cale Piland, the athletic director for Evergreen Public Schools, which has four teams that use McKenzie Stadium as its home field. “This should be beneficial to a lot of kids.”

There was still a bit of confusion on Friday morning.

“Before we got clarification, we built two separate plans,” Piland said. 

At first, they were not certain if the number of fans would be at 25-percent capacity of a stadium or a cap of 400.

On Friday afternoon, he got a call confirming it was 25 percent.

Also, the number of participants — football players, coaches, game ops personnel, and officials — do not count toward the capacity.

That means there should be more than 1,000 people at McKenzie Stadium on Thursday when Union hosts Heritage. The stadium, with seating on both sides of the field, can hold close to 6,000 at full capacity. 

Kiggins Bowl might not have the same capacity, but it is close. Look for around 1,000 people to be at Kiggins on Thursday when Skyview plays Evergreen.

“We want to put as many fans in as possible,” said Dave Bennett, the district AD for Vancouver Public Schools. 

Spectators found a place on the hill, on the outside looking in to McKenzie Stadium at a football game earlier this season. More fans will be allowed in the stadium starting this week. Photo by Mike Schultz
Spectators found a place on the hill, on the outside looking in to McKenzie Stadium at a football game earlier this season. More fans will be allowed in the stadium starting this week. Photo by Mike Schultz

It should be noted that every school district, every home site, will have different plans for its facilities.

And please, do not go to any stadium just expecting to pay for a ticket to get into the game. It is believed that this will be invitation-only, based on a number of tickets per participant.

At the bigger stadiums such as McKenzie and Kiggins, the home teams could get up to four tickets per player, two tickets per cheerleader, and two tickets for each member of the band. Visiting teams are expected to get a certain number of tickets, as well.

At McKenzie, it is expected that the four people from one player’s allotment would sit together at the stadium, Piland said. And all groupings would sit at least six feet apart from each other.

Students could be at a game, if they are among the invited guests by the players, cheerleaders, or band members, but there will be no student section.

“This is awesome,” Bennett said. “The numbers are going in the right direction.”

He was talking about the COVID-19 numbers, but he also could have been talking about the number of fans allowed to watch football.

The Class 4A and 3A football schedule has four playing dates left on the schedule, beginning Thursday.

The 2A and 1A programs in the area only have one game left. Their stadiums are smaller, as well.

The small schools have had a limited number of fans at each game. That number will be higher for this week’s finales, but again, each home site will have its own set of rules.

For 4A and 3A teams, though, with multiple games left on the schedule, family members should have opportunities to attend a football game.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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