FARGO — The state of North Dakota raising the COVID-19 risk level to yellow for Cass County this week wasn’t meant as a means of support for the school colors of North Dakota State. It's about the number of positive results of the coronavirus, which are going up.
But the Bison will go on with their game on Oct. 3 against Central Arkansas at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome with no changes. The reason: NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen said a consortium of groups figured a yellow level would eventually hit the Fargo area.
"Everybody anticipated we were heading in that direction and we tried to be proactive," Larsen said.
The original figure of 10,000 fans for the game three weeks ago was downgraded to 8,400 last week. It is now pegged at 8,200, Larsen said. That figure was arrived at in agreement with NDSU, the city of Fargo, the Fargodome and Fargo Cass Public Health.
Larsen gave three primary reasons for 8,200 fans: the ability to physically distance in the dome and the volume of space per patron, the ability of the dome to exchange the air capacity of the facility every 15 to 20 minutes and the requirement that all fans must wear masks or face consequences if they don't.
"Those three things are above and beyond what other venues can do," Larsen said. "We have been in constant collaboration with the city, Cass Public Health and the dome."
The new yellow designation recommends large venues hold no more than 250 people at 50 percent of normal capacity. The dome holds 18,700 for football.
Cass County is the second highest in the state in active COVID-19 infections with 565. The county was in the green or low level, which is one above the optimal blue level.
Last week, the NDSU Faculty Senate passed a resolution asking the university to limit the capacity of the Central Arkansas game to 500. That was when the risk level was at a green, or low level.
"This is not NDSU athletics making these decisions in a bubble or isolation," Larsen said.