The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team is scheduled to play its first two games of the 2020 season at Western Kentucky on Sept. 3 and at James Madison on Sept. 12.
UTC's home opener isn't until Sept. 19, when the Mocs welcome North Alabama. As of right now, the maximum attendance allowed at Finley Stadium for the Mocs and Lions would be slightly more than 4,000, according to the Stadium Corporation's Reactivation Policy for the 20,412-seat facility.
"Based on the guidelines published by Governor (Bill) Lee's website, we anticipate that the stadium's in-stands capacity is currently 20% of normal capacity," Finley Stadium executive director Chris Thomas said Tuesday during a Stadium Corp. meeting conducted via Zoom. "There is a requirement that each family-ticketed unit have a six-foot separation around them. Naturally, if the stadium has a lot of six- or eight-member families, we could get a lot more people in there.
"If you're only talking two-per-group occupancy, the overall efficiency of the stadium declines."
Having a 20% attendance as a result of coronavirus concerns would result in a crowd of no more than 4,082, which is lower than any season average since Finley Stadium became UTC's new football home in 1997. Thomas added that Finley's skyboxes will have a 50% capacity.
"There is no doubt in my mind that some of this is going to change," Thomas said. "Whether it gets looser or stricter, I have no idea."
Stadium Corp. board chairman Mike Davis announced Tuesday that Finley Stadium received $91,147 from the government's Payment Protection Program that can be used for payroll purposes. Thomas said the amount was very much needed given that "our revenue stream is off horribly."
Finley Stadium lost roughly $46,000 in April and $32,000 in May, Thomas said. He added that a similar loss in June would wipe out the operating profitability for the current fiscal year.
"We need reactivation of our facility," Thomas said. "We can't survive another year doing what we're doing today. Something has to give."