YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s hard to believe we’re talking about college football in the month of February, but the YSU Penguins are kicking off their first home game of the season Saturday.
The Penguins will take the field at home for the first time since November 2019.
YSU and the Missouri Valley Conference pushed the season back to spring and are playing eight conference games. Four of them are set for Stambaugh Stadium, with the first against the University of Northern Iowa.
This season, only 3,600 fans are allowed to attend and if you’re one of them heading to the game Saturday, expect to see some changes.
First, you won’t be waking up extra early to hit the tailgate lot. There is no tailgating this year.
When you head to the Ice Castle, they’ll be doing temperature checks.
Everyone will be spread out and required to wear masks. That’s probably the biggest difference you’ll notice — seats have been sold in twos and fours.
The east side of the stadium will hold the band, the cheerleaders and any of their parents who bought tickets. Students and other fans will be on the west side.
The band will be playing and the cheerleaders will be performing, but they won’t be on the field at all. The cheerleaders won’t perform before the game or during halftime.
Staff had to work with the health department to make all of this happen. The health department took its plan to the state. The state reviewed it, came back with some changes and clarifications, then gave YSU the go-ahead.
Members of the health department will also be at the game to make sure everyone is following the rules.
“We’re obviously going to do the best we can because we want to be able to have fans going forward,” said Trevor Parks, with YSU’s Athletic Department. “Nothing is guaranteed on anything and it’s a game-by-game basis, and as long as everybody in Stambaugh Stadium is following the rules this Saturday, we get the next Saturday and, hopefully, we’re playing the next Saturday.”
Despite the changes, the goal is to make sure fans don’t notice a whole lot of them.
“Hopefully, once the game starts, everyone’s like, ‘It’s a football game and we’re glad we have the opportunity to be here’ and the Penguins can put on a good show for them,” Parks said. “We’re excited to get people here. That’s all our guys have been talking about all week. Playing at home and playing for the city. I’m anxious for Coach Phillips to finally get a game here as well because he’s been here for a long time and I know he’s been dreaming about this day for a while.”
Tickets are still available. You can buy them online, over the phone by calling 330-941-1YSU or at the ticket booth at Stambaugh Stadium. However, you won’t be able to buy tickets on game day.
This year, YSU has implemented a new, interactive chart that lets you pick your seats and actually see where you’re going to be sitting.
Kick-off is set for 12:05 p.m.