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Jakobe Thomas makes a leaping catch during practice on Wednesday. This coming season, Tullahoma High School will limit the number of fans in the stands to 1,946 to abide by regulations set by the TSSAA. 

The football stands at Wilkins Stadium will look a little weird this coming fall, as Tullahoma High School will only allow 1,946 fans into the bleachers this season. Additionally, tickets will not be available at the box office and must be pre-purchased ahead of game time.

This move comes in accordance with the TSSAA regulations that were passed unanimously on July 23. During that meeting held at Siegel High School, the TSSAA asked schools to limit fan attendance into contests in order to allow for adequate social distancing. The TSSAA recommended having one-fourth or one-third of regular capacity.

During game weeks, Tullahoma High School will have tickets on sale at the school and that’s where fans will need to pre-purchase them. On Monday, THS students will be allowed to buy one ticket for themselves. On Tuesday, the parents of the cheerleaders, band member or football players will be allowed to purchase two tickets.

The general public will be able to purchase tickets beginning on Wednesday and will continue until the day of the game. Tickets will be on sale from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in front of the school so those wanting tickets do not have to enter the building. Tullahoma’s first game of the year will take place on Thursday, Aug. 20 at home against Shelbyville.

The visiting team will be limited to roughly 500 tickets. That number could change based on the size of the visiting team’s band.

“If your band is coming and you’ve got 100 people in your band, then we take 400 tickets to you, because 100 is already being accounted for,” Olive said.

Any tickets that are left over from the visiting team will be sold by Tullahoma High School.

“The first two games are kind of guinea pigs, and obviously we would much rather have another game to open up with then Shelbyville and Coffee County,” said John Olive, THS Head Football Coach and Athletic Director. “But, the TSSAA has requested that we set a limit and therefore, we’re trying to adhere to what we’ve been asked to do.”

Season tickets are currently on sale at the high school. Those wanting to purchase season tickets are told to give Tullahoma High School a call at 931-454-2620.

The regulations set by the TSSAA will also affect those who had purchased season tickets in the past. Due to attendance regulations, THS is selling season tickets in blocks. In years past, ticket holders were allowed to purchase the same seats they had the previous season. However, due to the regulations, some of those seats will be unavailable.

“So, I may only want two tickets, but I have to choose what block I’m going to sit in,” Olive said. “Once we get past the virus, whether that’s because we’ve got a vaccine or whatever, we have solved the buyer’s problem. In future years, we will go back to the seating chart of 2019.

“It’s always been, if I had a seat, I had first options at keeping that seat. This year, your seat may be a set of seats that we’re not letting anybody sit in,” he added. “So you have to move and so now it’s just first come first serve to fill up these blocks. We do not have enough seats for everybody that has had reserved seats in the past. We just don’t.”

In order to make more room in the bleachers, the THS band will not be sitting in the stands this coming season. Instead, the plan is to have the band sit down on the track near the north end zone. Additionally, THS teachers who have passes to athletic events are told to bring their own chairs to sit in the South end zone, opposite of the band.

On game days, all fans will be required to have their temperature taken at the gates. Anybody above 100.4 degrees will not be allowed into Wilkins Stadium. Additionally, all fans will be required to wear a facemask, which abides by the TSSAA regulations.

Concession stands will still be operating during football games this coming season. Olive said he and the THS staff will be promoting social distancing at the concession stands.

“I know that at least one of the concession stands is looking at an app where you can order your food,” Olive said. “It will tell you when your order is ready for you and you can go and pick it up. We’ll have a distance spacing disk on the ground to try to help with the crowds at the concession stands. But everybody understands that we’re operating in a unique situation right now.”

For the first time, Tullahoma Utilities Authority will be broadcasting games live on LightTube this coming season. The plan is to broadcast all 10 regular-season games on the network this year.

“We’re hoping that by showing games on LightTube that we help the ones who feel like that they are at greatest risk for being in crowds,” Olive said.

Tullahoma is scheduled to kick off the regular season on Thursday, Aug. 20 and then host Coffee County in the Annual Coffee Pot Game on Friday, Aug. 28. Both games are scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m.

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