There may be a few more fans at the St. James-Lutcher game on Friday, as well as for other teams I the River Parishes.
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Thursday that parishes can allow 50 percent capacity for outdoor sporting events if the positivity rate for COVID-19 us under five percent for two weeks, effective Friday. Should a parish exceed 10 percent, it would have to scale back capacity.
St. James, St. John, and St. Charles parishes all meet the criteria.
“It’s exciting, of course,” said St. James coach Robert Valdez. “We have our big St. James Parish game (Friday). Any time we’ve played at Lutcher, it’s been standing room only. It gives us a chance to get a few more people in the stadium. It just adds to the energy.
“Hopefully, we can handle everything in a safe COVID way so that maybe we can get closer to the real thing.”
West St. John coach Brandon Walters, echoed Valdez’s sentiments.
“I think it shows that we are progressing toward some sense of normalcy and getting back to where we used to be,” said Walters.
The announcement came in time for the Rams to add a few more fans in the stands in time for West St. John’s Homecoming game scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday.
“I think it’s a good thing. It allows more people to come into the game, although we will still practice some of those same safety precautions to make sure we are keeping everybody safe,” Walters said.
Over at Hahnville, however, things won’t change much when the St. Charles-based Tigers host Thibodaux at 7 p.m. Friday.
“For us, it really doesn’t change anything,” Hahnville coach Daniel Luquet said. “We adhere by the six-feet rule here. When we set up our stadium, we did by six feet off the aisles, six feet, meaning we skip a row. It really doesn’t change for us the number.
“Some schools are going in there saying, ‘If our stadium holds 5,000 in my stadium, I can let 2,500 in.’ At the end of the day, you are still supposed to be six feet away from each other. For us, unfortunately, it won’t change anything as far as how many people we can put in our stands.”
The late announcement may create some logistical problems when it comes to distributing additional tickets, but it shouldn’t be a problem at West St. John, according to Walters.
“Although it’s coming at the last minute for us, our tickets are sold on an online medium, so our fans can buy tickets almost until halftime. That’s a good thing for us. We don’t have to worry about people standing in line at the gate. Some people that were maybe apprehensive about the numbers and people being allowed into the stadium, now they can feel a little better about coming in there and that more people will be allowed to be in there,” said Walters.
In the case of the St. James-Lutcher game, it’s not so bad being the road team this year, according to Valdez.
“The good thing about it is it’s not my home game. We’re the visitors, so the burden of responsibility falls a bit more on Lutcher than it does for us. I just want to get ready for 7 p.m. and kickoff,” the St. James coach said.