Fans headed to the state baseball and softball tournaments will notice a few differences this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For baseball, there is limited seating due to social-distancing measures enacted at Principal Park in Des Moines. As a result, all tickets will be reserved seating. Each ticket is for one game only. Capacity will be approximately 1,900 seats per game. All tickets are first-come, first-serve and fans are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance online to guarantee seating. The ticket office will be open on game day, but tickets may be purchased by credit card or debit card only. No cash will be accepted. For fans who are looking to sit together, it is important that all tickets be purchased at the same time. Adjacent seats to those within an order will become unavailable for purchase after the initial order is placed. This means that if two seats are purchased in a block of four available seats, the unclaimed two seats will become unavailable for future purchase.
Parking will be free but it will also be first-come, first-serve.
Fans will be permitted to bring in one sealed water bottle per person. No other outside food and drink will be allowed to enter the ballpark. A select concessions menu will be available in the third-base concourse. No cash will be accepted at the concession stands.
Masks are strongly encouraged, but not required at this time.
West Lyon plays its first-round game of the Class 2A state tournament at 1:30 p.m. Monday.
For softball, face coverings are strongly encouraged when entering, exiting and moving around Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge. Bleachers immediately behind home plate on Kruger Field and Iowa Central Field will be restricted for Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and media use. Other bleachers throughout the complex will be marked for social distancing. Fans are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets.
Concessions will be offered during the tournament.
Fans are asked to follow the facility guidelines regarding restroom use. Information will be posted at the complex.
For softball there also is a difference in the schedule. In past years, the tournament was played all the way out, with each qualifier guaranteed to play three games. This year, if you lose in the first round, you are out. There will be no fifth or seventh-place games. There will be consolation finals and finals in each class.
Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley is the seventh seed and plays Davenport Assumption in the opening round at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 28.
GPAC sticking to plan
The Great Plains Athletic Conference Council of Presidents met on Tuesday and released a statement saying the conference plans on running college sports as planned in 2020.
Of course that is all contingent on the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics permitting conferences to move forward with fall spots at this time, which the GPAC is encouraging it to do.
“The health and well-being of student-athletes, coaches, administrators and communities in the GPAC is our top priority,” it said in the statement. “The GPAC is taking all necessary actions to help our campuses and communities address this public health crisis. We remain committed to providing a positive and safe experience for our GPAC student-athletes. The GPAC will continue to closely monitor and adjust as necessary to protect the health and safety of all those involved in GPAC athletics.”
The GPAC has established a Return-to-Play Task Force that is working to create policies and recommend the best practices for screening and monitoring the virus for member schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Further guidance from the task force is expected in August.
The conference has decided that student-athletes may begin practice no earlier than Saturday, Aug. 15. Competition may begin no earlier than Saturday, Sept. 5, in volleyball, soccer, cross country, tennis, baseball and softball. Competition in football will start no earlier than Saturday, Sept. 12.
“Today’s statement shows our intentions to move forward as a league and have intercollegiate athletics this fall,” said GPAC commissioner Corey Westa. “The GPAC will continue to closely monitor the ever changing landscape of COVID-19 as it relates to athletics at our member campuses this upcoming fall.”