Walking up to the Alamodome Saturday afternoon, football fans were greeted by a booming voice over an outdoor PA system, reminding them to wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart from other parties.
Attendees were required to enter from the gate specified on their ticket, wear a mask while going through security, and submit to a temperature check before entering the stadium to watch the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners take on the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks.
Inside the 64,000-seat indoor stadium, Alamodome visitors were asked to follow single-direction walking lanes, sit in seats separated by large social distancing signs, and order concessions via a QR code. They were also asked to keep their masks on unless they were eating or drinking.
These and other safety measures were put in place by UTSA, Alamodome, and City of San Antonio officials to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the stadium’s first major event since the start of the pandemic. Officials were prepared for up to 17 percent capacity, or 11,000-attendees, at Saturday’s event.
“It’s a little different,” said UTSA graduate Thomas Hover. Hover said he was glad the regulations were in place and that they helped make him feel safer.
UTSA nursing freshman Trinity Deauvearo said she was excited to attend her first game as a student despite the restrictions. Wearing a UTSA face mask and orange and navy clothing, Deauvearo said she approved of the precautionary measures officials put into place.
“We don’t know what the future is going to look like, this could be the reality for a while,” she said. “We still want to support our athletes during this time.”
Others said while they disagreed with the mask order and other restrictions, they would follow them if it meant getting to attend the game.
“We don’t think they help but we’ll follow the rules,” said David Olaez, a Bulverde-area resident. Olaez said his son is in the UTSA marching band and he was excited to see him perform. “We are looking forward to everything getting back to normal.”
Following the Roadrunner’s 24-10 win over the Lumberjacks, UTSA and City officials said they felt crowd control in terms of their Alamodome coronavirus procedures went well.
Executive Director of Convention and Sports Facilities Patricia Cantor said she received a lot of positive feedback from fans and staff that attendees felt comfortable and safe at the event. A game attendee herself, Cantor said she saw most people wearing their face masks and following protocols.
Cantor said the City and UTSA contracted extra staff with the Alamodome to help make sure everyone got their temperature checked before entering and were following protocols.
“Any event – even leaving your home – there’s a risk involved. But I’m really happy to see everyone followed all our procedures,” she said.
The university has been collaborating with the City and Alamodome staff on a procedures plan since May, said Kyle Stephens, UTSA associate athletic director. Stephens said UTSA athletic staff will likely meet in the next week to further evaluate how well procedures were followed.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg said he attended the game and also felt it went very well. From extra sanitation stations to safe seating separations, Nirenberg said he’d score the event as a success in terms of safe operations.
“It was a full action run on the operations we had set up at the Alamodome to handle events in a COVID-era prior to a vaccine,” he said. “We will likely make a few tweaks going forward, but I’d say this was a success.”
Cantor agreed and said she looks forward to upcoming games this season.
“We can only improve from here.”
The Roadrunners’ next game at the dome is slated for 7 p.m. Friday against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.
This story has been updated with the latest information on the Roadrunners’ upcoming schedule.