MHSAA clears way for fans to return to stands for high school sports (updated)

The MHSAA is allowing a limited number of fans to return to the stands following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s newest order. This new order, which becomes effective on Friday, Oct. 9, allows for increased gathering numbers for indoor and outdoor events in all regions of the state.

The MHSAA will now allow a 20 percent capacity (up to 500 spectators) for indoor events and a 30 percent capacity for outdoor events (up to 1,000 spectators). Advanced ticket sales are 50/50 between schools. Cheerleaders, dance teams, pompon squads and bands do not count towards the spectator count.

Each school district can decide to follow these guidelines or continue the current policy of no fans. In Ann Arbor, the Board of Education voted 5-2 against spectators, so it would require a new vote for that policy to change.

For regular season events, schools also may have more restrictive local policies.

Here are the new guidelines from the MHSAA: 

1. The effective date of this new guidance under EO 183 is Friday, Oct. 9.

2. Social distancing MUST be followed at all times for everyone except athletes involved in active participation during the contest. There is no change to the face covering requirements under EO 153 (for all non-athletes) and EO 180 (for all athletes).

3. If an indoor event is in a fixed indoor seating venue (gymnasium or pool), 20% of seating capacity is allowed for up to 500 spectators (25% in Regions 6 and 8). If your gymnasium seats 2,500 or more, you would be able to sell 500 spectator tickets. If your gymnasium seats less than 2,500, take 20% (or 25% in Regions 6 and 8) of your maximum capacity to determine the number of allowed spectators.

4. If an outdoor event is in a fixed outdoor seating venue (football or soccer stadium), 30% of seating capacity is allowed for up to 1,000 spectators. If your stadium seats 3,333 or more, you would be able to sell 1,000 spectator tickets. If your stadium seats less than 3,333, take 30% of your maximum seating capacity to determine the number of allowed spectators.

5. If an outdoor event is NOT in a fixed outdoor seating venue (cross country, golf, soccer field with no permanent/fixed seating), a site must maintain no more than 30 spectators per 1,000 square feet of the facility, up to a maximum of 1,000 spectators. We realize this will be challenging to enforce in cross country and golf in particular given the massive expanse of many cross country and golf courses. In these cases, use every opportunity possible to announce and remind all involved to keep social distancing at all times.

6. When spectator tickets are sold in advance, the availability of those tickets must be divided on a 50-50 basis between the home and visiting school. If remaining tickets are sold at the gate, they may be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. If tickets are not sold in advance, spectators are admitted on a first-come first-serve basis. All persons admitted with a school, league or conference pass for regular season contests must be included in the spectator limits.

7. This new order eliminates the need for the MHSAA definition of “participant” as attendance is no longer connected to the number of participants. Local schools can now determine participant groups to be included with regular season contests such as players, cheerleaders, dance teams, pompon squads and bands.