Game day in Fort Worth

first_imgRELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Renee Umstedhttps://www.tcu360.com/author/renee-umsted/ Former Fort Worth, TCU Police Department officer dies of COVID-19 and on-duty injury complications ReddIt printLoading 75%Game day in Fort WorthThe Frogs returned to the Amon G. Carter Stadium amid a pandemic for their home opener against Iowa State.By Renee UmstedFans had to be socially distant in the stands during the TCU football game against Iowa State. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)Fans had to be socially distant in the stands during the TCU football game against Iowa State. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)Ten months have passed since the Horned Frogs played in the Carter. When the TCU football team lost to the West Virginia Mountaineers, 20-17, last November, everyone expected the Frogs to be back in the Amon G. Carter Stadium by mid-September. But the COVID-19 pandemic brought college athletics — like most everything else — to a halt. Throughout the summer, university officials, fans and the public agonized about whether it was safe for players to suit up. But a season without football would do more than pause old rivalries. At a time when universities were strapped for cash, there were also financial considerations.Chancellor Victor Boschini said in a July town hall meeting that not having fall sports would cost TCU about $40 million.By early August, football was back on, but it was clear the specter of COVID-19 would change the game. First up, Jeremiah Donati, TCU’s director of intercollegiate athletics, said the stadium capacity would be capped around 25% — roughly 12,000 people.The first game against Tennessee Tech on Sept. 12 in Fort Worth was canceled due to the coronavirus. TCU made plans to play SMU instead. But the 100th anniversary of the Battle for the Iron Skillet was also postponed after TCU players tested positive for COVID-19. Instead, fans waited to see a kick off until end of September was just days away. A Saturday game day usually brings crowds to campus. Neighborhood streets are clogged with cars. Tailgating begins hours before tickets are taken. And the restaurants along South University Drive are at capacity.The Frogs lost 37-34 in a season opener unlike any other. With new safety guidelines, limited attendance and changes to game day festivities, fans, players and staff experienced the first TCU football matchup during the pandemic. The Amon G. Carter Stadium (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)The Amon G. Carter Stadium (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)Welcome to the CarterA stadium employee monitors the entrance to the field. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)A stadium employee monitors the entrance to the field. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)A girl cheers on the TCU football team along with her family. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)A girl cheers on the TCU football team along with her family. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)Iowa State fans watch the football game against TCU. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)Iowa State fans watch the football game against TCU. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)TCU football fans maintained social distancing in the stands in the game. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)TCU football fans maintained social distancing in the stands in the game. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)TCU required all visitors to wear masks to enter the stadium.The Frog Alley entrance was stacked with people trying to get through the temperature check.Staff used an automatic infrared scanner to measure, in less than 5 seconds, the temperature of fans entering the stadium.Acknowledging the Texas heat, staff allowed people whose temperature was above 100.2 degrees to stand in front of a fan to see if they truly had a fever or if the high reading was a result of the heat.After passing the temperature check, visitors received a blue wristband to show they had passed and then proceeded to the mobile ticket scan.Forget about barcodes and QR codes; staff members waived scanning devices over fans’ phones to pick up the signal.The process didn’t take long, unless a phone had to be repeatedly scanned because a signal couldn’t be found.  Inside the stadium, there was no sea of purple and white chanting “Go Frogs.” Instead, scattered pockets of fans dispersed sparingly throughout the stadium.One TCU fan said it seemed as if the Frogs were losing by 21 points with no hope to come back. But TCU fans weren’t the only ones missing. At one point, only about 100 Iowa State fans could be counted in the crowd. One Iowa State fan said he came because he lives in the area and wanted to meet up with family, who drove from Oklahoma.No matter who scored, touchdowns weren’t met with the typical stadium-wide eruption of cheers and excitement. Fans for both teams said the quiet and the slow start to the game felt more like a scrimmage than a regular conference game.A wide shot of the limited capacity of the west, east and south sides of the stadium. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)A wide shot of the limited capacity of the west, east and south sides of the stadium. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)Iowa State fans celebrate. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)Iowa State fans celebrate. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston catches a pass for a touchdown. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston catches a pass for a touchdown. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)TCU tries to stop Iowa State from scoring. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)TCU tries to stop Iowa State from scoring. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston approaches the end zone for a touchdown. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston approaches the end zone for a touchdown. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)A wide shot of the limited capacity of the west, east and south sides of the stadium. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)A wide shot of the limited capacity of the west, east and south sides of the stadium. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)Iowa State fans celebrate. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)Iowa State fans celebrate. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston catches a pass for a touchdown. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston catches a pass for a touchdown. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)TCU tries to stop Iowa State from scoring. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)TCU tries to stop Iowa State from scoring. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston approaches the end zone for a touchdown. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston approaches the end zone for a touchdown. (Connor Cash/Staff Reporter)TCU fans had to be socially distant in the stands during the game against Iowa State. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)TCU fans had to be socially distant in the stands during the game against Iowa State. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)Fans inside the stadiumTCU’s spirit squads tried to rouse the crowd.  The 16 Dutchmen led the student section in different chants, including “Go Frogs” and “Riff Ram.” Their main job was to get the students hyped and make sure the energy stayed up throughout the game to cheer on the athletes, said Garrett Weir, the head Dutchman.But getting everyone to participate was difficult since they could not be as loud or stand on the usual ladders, said Liliana Ogden, a member of the Dutchmen.The masks meant for safety muffled their voices.“Wearing the masks were a challenge in the sense of our voices not being able to carry as much,” said Ogden. With the stadium at reduced capacity, the Dutchmen tried to be as loud as possible to support what was happening on the field and keep the energy up. “We’re still going to bring that A-game,” said Weir. “Our job [doesn’t] change–it got twice as important this year.”Ogden said one job of the Dutchmen was to try to maintain the same energy level in a socially distanced stadium that normally comes as people feed off of the excitement of those around them.The student section expanded to accommodate social distancing and other protocols. “The challenges were what we expected with trying to maintain separation in a general free-for-all,” Weir said.He added that the student section is usually a free-for-all. But this season, students have to wear masks and they aren’t supposed to be in groups larger than four.Despite the guidelines in place, some students congregated in groups larger than four, not complying with social distancing rules. And students are not used to following strict rules, but they have to adapt to keep people safe.The Dutchmen followed new protocols as well. They couldn’t stand on their elevated ladders or pass out the game day towels to students.  Instead of towels, the Dutchmen set pom-poms on students’ seats before they arrived to give them something to cheer with.Other TCU spirit groups, including the Showgirls, cheerleaders and band, were not allowed to play or dance on the field. The Showgirls and cheerleaders stayed at the corners of the end zones, while the band was located next to the student section.   Liliana Ogden, a TCU Dutchmen, gets ready for the game by laying down pom-poms on every seat in the student section. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)Liliana Ogden, a TCU Dutchmen, gets ready for the game by laying down pom-poms on every seat in the student section. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)TCU students cheer for the football team. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)TCU students cheer for the football team. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)TCU Cheerleaders cheer 6 feet apart during the football game against Iowa State. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)TCU Cheerleaders cheer 6 feet apart during the football game against Iowa State. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)A TCU Band member plays the clarinet through her mask during a TCU Football game. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)A TCU Band member plays the clarinet through her mask during a TCU Football game. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)Customers were required to socially distance while standing in the concession lines. (Braden Roux/Staff Reporter)Customers were required to socially distance while standing in the concession lines. (Braden Roux/Staff Reporter)A stadium employee works concessions. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)A stadium employee works concessions. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)Fans wait in line to get their food. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)Fans wait in line to get their food. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)TCU fans had to stand in designated spots, set 6 feet apart, at the concession stands. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)TCU fans had to stand in designated spots, set 6 feet apart, at the concession stands. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)Concession lines for the Frogs’ home opener were considerably shorter than usual, given the limited capacity.At halftime, most lines looked as if fans only had to wait about five to seven minutes, and many concession stands didn’t have any lines. “It was nice being able to get food without missing 20 minutes of the game,” said Lauren Mallette, a junior at TCU.Sanitation and safety were the priority of the food service staff. Workers wiped down every surface during any down time they had. According to the TCU Athletic Food Service COVID-19 Adjustments, all staff were required to wear the appropriate PPE, including face coverings, gloves and face shields. Customers in line were encouraged to use cashless payment options. They were required to follow social distancing guidelines and could only take their masks off when eating or drinking. The concession menu was also limited for safety purposes, and beer and other drinks were being served in closed containers. Mallette said she was able to order what she wanted despite a limited menu.Some concession options were closed due to the smaller crowd size, and vendors were not allowed to walk the rows of the stands to sell food and drinks as they usually are. “You could tell that the workers were still adjusting, but I appreciated how quick the service was regardless of the craziness of a COVID game day,” said Mallette. The Amon G. Carter Stadium welcomes students back for a new football season. (Kaitlyn Freetage/Staff Reporter)The Amon G. Carter Stadium welcomes students back for a new football season. (Kaitlyn Freetage/Staff Reporter)Fans outside the stadiumFrog Alley was different this year amid the pandemic. (Matthew Sgroi/Staff Reporter)Frog Alley was different this year amid the pandemic. (Matthew Sgroi/Staff Reporter)The new Frog Alley, located on Stadium Drive, had booths set up with music, games and food. (Matthew Sgroi/Staff Reporter)The new Frog Alley, located on Stadium Drive, had booths set up with music, games and food. (Matthew Sgroi/Staff Reporter)TCU allowed students to request tickets and create groups of up to four people. But not all of those who requested a ticket received one, and many students didn’t submit any requests.For example, Gabbi Struchen, a junior strategic communication major, decided to watch the game with a few friends in her sorority house, skipping large watch parties or off-campus tailgates. “It’ll be fun to get to be together and enjoy it without having the extra worries that come with being around large crowds right now,” Struchen said. Bao-Tram Le, a sophomore biology major, also did not request a ticket because she said watching the game at home would be just as enjoyable and allow her to avoid large gatherings and the new restrictions.“We could still get ready, order pizza and gain the full experience pandemic-style,” Le said. TCU Athletics released a statement last month explaining that tailgating is prohibited in all lots and spaces, “in order to provide the safest environment for fans to enjoy TCU Football this fall.”This lack of tailgating led to a pre-game environment TCU fans aren’t used to. Each lot, usually filled with raucous Horned Frogs fans, was instead filled with empty cars and spaces.To try to make up for the loss of on-campus pregame spirit, TCU Athletics set up the new Frog Alley, located on Stadium Drive. Frog Alley is a family-oriented pregame party/tailgate, where booths are set up for music, games and food. This week, Mexican restaurant Mi Cocina and Rudy’s BBQ set up booths, and even The Coaches’ Trophy, the trophy presented to the CFB National Champion, made a visit to Frog Alley this week. Frog Alley will be continued throughout home games this football season.While tailgating wasn’t allowed on lots surrounding the Carter, that didn’t stop fans from getting their tailgate fix in before the game. Many fans said they participated in off-campus tailgates, which were hosted in neighborhoods close to campus.TCU student David Clary said he got ready for the game at a friend’s house in Bluebonnet Hills. He said they did all the same things they would at a normal tailgate. “We had some burgers on the grill and just had a good time,” Clary said. “It wasn’t the same as being next to the stadium with hundreds of other Frog fans, but it made do under the circumstances.”These off-campus tailgates were very helpful for the business of Kroger. Initially, the store was worried that the lack of tailgating might impact its sales. On a pre-COVID-19 game day, Kroger could expect TCU tailgaters stopping by to run a quick errand, whether it be for burgers, beer or ice. Crista Cook, the store manager, said they plan for football Saturdays the same way they would plan for a holiday.“Anything that you would sell for tailgating, we load up on,” Cook said. She added that though the store expected less traffic than normal, they prepared the same way they have in previous years. The Kroger parking lot was full for the duration of the morning and afternoon.The corner of Lubbock and West Cantey on game day. (Molly Boyce/Staff Reporter)The corner of Lubbock and West Cantey on game day. (Molly Boyce/Staff Reporter)Around campusIn the past, students would park their cars wherever they could on game days, including in neighborhoods close to campus, creating parking issues. Diann Stadler, a TCU alumna who lives on Greene Avenue, said parking used to be “horrible and daunting during TCU home games.”However, due to new COVID-19 rules, parking regulations have been adjusted. “Since the stadium is now only allowing 25% capacity, the parking situation in and around campus is MUCH more bearable,” Stadler said. She added that cars used to block her driveways, so she couldn’t leave her house, but since parking is only allowed on the east side of the street, congestion has been reduced.The same rules in regards to where people can park are still applied. But since the occupancy numbers have decreased, so has the amount of vehicles on campus.The on-campus population is significantly reduced due to COVID-19, so there are not as many people tailgating or attending the games as there has been in the past. A sign prohibits parking near a house on Waits Avenue. (Molly Boyce/Staff Reporter)A sign prohibits parking near a house on Waits Avenue. (Molly Boyce/Staff Reporter)Cars line the the street at the corner of Greene Avenue and West Cantey Street. (Molly Boyce/Staff Reporter)Cars line the the street at the corner of Greene Avenue and West Cantey Street. (Molly Boyce/Staff Reporter)The following staff writers contributed to this report: Haley Cabrera, Connor Cash, Haeven Gibbons, Braden Roux, Matthew Sgroi and Charlotte Tomlinson.TopBuilt with Shorthand Cap and gown shipments delayed, off-color versions handed out for 2020, 2021 graduates ‘Horned Frogs lead the way’: A look at TCU’s ROTC programs + posts Renee is a journalism major. She is dedicated to improving her journalism skills to effectively and ethically inform others. Jacqueline Lambiase is still fighting for students SportsFootballIn-depth reportingTop StoriesGame day in Fort WorthBy Renee Umsted – September 26, 2020 2549 Renee Umsted Renee Umstedhttps://www.tcu360.com/author/renee-umsted/ Renee Umstedhttps://www.tcu360.com/author/renee-umsted/ The College of Science and Engineering Dean, Phil Hartman, retires after 40 consecutive years center_img Facebook TCU places second in the National Student Advertising Competition, the highest in school history Twitter Previous articlePatterson: ‘No silver lining’ as football drops season opener to Iowa StateNext articleEmergency drills in buildings cut short due to social distancing Renee Umsted Linkedin ReddIt Linkedin Twitter World Oceans Day shines spotlight on marine plastic pollution Renee Umstedhttps://www.tcu360.com/author/renee-umsted/ TCU will not raise tuition for the 2021-22 academic year TCU 360 staff win awards at the Fall National College Media Convention Facebooklast_img

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