Huskers set to host up to 2,700 at baseball games, shooting for 50% for Red-White Spring Game

A security guard watches the field among snow-covered cardboard cutouts before a Nebraska-Minnesota football game on Dec. 12, 2020, at Memorial Stadium.

There will be fans at Haymarket Park and Bowlin Stadium on Friday. 

Husker fans will have a chance to see the volleyball team in person next weekend and the football team at Memorial Stadium for the Red-White Spring Game on May 1. 

The Big Ten on Wednesday morning formalized a move that’s been expected for a couple of days now, announcing that all attendance decisions for regular-season competitions can be made by schools in conjunction with local health officials, effective immediately. 

That’s a sizable change, as the Big Ten’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors have had the controls for the past year and had not allowed any of the 14 member schools to host general fans. 

Shortly after the league announcement, NU said it plans have fans back at Haymarket Park this weekend for the baseball program’s home-opening series against Minnesota and for all other Husker sporting events moving forward this spring. Same goes for the softball program’s home series beginning Friday against Penn State. 

“I’m smiling today and the people here at Memorial Stadium are excited because we have a new little skip to our step as we’re preparing all aspects of having our great fans back in our venues,” Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos said on Wednesday evening during an interview on the “Sports Nightly” radio program. 

Moos laid out the attendance plans for NU, making sure to note, “As I describe them, I want our people to understand they can change. They could go either direction.” 

Moos said that NU can have up to 2,700 fans for baseball games, 2,400 at the remaining volleyball matches and 675 at both softball games and soccer matches. 

At the Devaney Center for volleyball, Moos said NU will not use the lower bowl for seating fans, noting that extra caution will be used to ensure the No. 5 Huskers aren’t at any elevated risk for having to pause operations as the NCAA Tournament draws near. 

Moos said NU is “looking at 50% capacity at Memorial Stadium for the Red-White Spring Game on May 1, though he hoped that could climb as high as 75% in the coming weeks. The game is set for a 1 p.m. start and television plans are to be determined. 

Season-ticket holders will get the first crack at buying tickets in baseball, softball and soccer at 10 a.m. Thursday. General public will then have access to the remaining tickets at 10 a.m. Friday. NU is not selling volleyball tickets to the general public because of the expected demand among season-ticket holders. 

For the spring game, tickets go on sale to season-ticket holders on April 1 at 10 a.m. At least 7,500 tickets are being held for the general public, and those go on sale April 2 at 10 a.m. Moos said NU will be able to use its suites and club-level seating, as well. 

With a capacity of about 87,000, the Huskers could have well above 40,000 in attendance on May 1. 

“Now instead of saying, ‘Go Big Red,’ I’m going to say, ‘Come Big Red,’ come back to our venues, because you can finally,” Moos said Wednesday evening, noting that he and UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green have been pushing for local control over attendance since September. 

All of that means, among other things, that the baseball program could play in front of a sizable crowd as soon as Friday afternoon. 

“I’m happy for our players. Obviously, we’re all excited, but I’m happy for our players. They’ve been through a lot in the last year, had a lot of things taken away,” NU baseball coach Will Bolt said shortly after the announcement. “But to have a little sense of normalcy this weekend, to have some Husker fans in the stands. … Very excited for the prospect of having that happen.”

Count the softball team among those pumped to be playing in front of spectators again. The team played in front of family members during games in Florida earlier this month.

NU softball coach Rhonda Revelle said her team will do meditations before practices, and the team used a recent session to prep for the roar of the crowd.

“I had them visualize managing their adrenaline in case we had fans in the stands, because it’s been over a year since we played in front of people,” Revelle said Wednesday. 

The Big Ten recently tweaked its attendance policies and allowed limited general attendance for Big Ten championships, including its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and the upcoming gymnastics and tennis championships that are set to be held in Lincoln next month. That move set the stage for a fuller transition to local control. 

NU said in a release that all tickets for events this spring will be sold on a single-game basis and that ticketing will be fully mobile. Masks will be required at all athletics events. 

Volleyball has just two regular-season home match remaining, but coach John Cook said in a statement Wednesday that even that will be a nice way to close the season before turning attention to the NCAA Tournament in Omaha. 

“We are excited we’ll be able to welcome some of our awesome fans back to the Devaney Center for the end of the regular season,” he said. “We look forward to the day when we can have the whole place packed in a Sea of Red again and return to the greatest atmosphere in college volleyball.”

While this weekend’s start times for Nebraska’s three baseball games will remain unchanged, a NU spokesman said the possibility exists for future Friday games to be moved to later times to accommodate fans. Currently all of Nebraska’s Friday home games are scheduled to start at 1, 2, or 4 p.m.

“Having an atmosphere where you can kind of sense the big moment a little bit — I think that’s maybe a little something, too, for some guys that just get the adrenaline going a little bit more at times,” Bolt said. “Ultimately it just comes down to what’s happening between the lines. But at the same time, it’s always great to have that extra excitement; the buzz in the stadium.

“All of our guys were recruited to come here, and a big reason they chose to come here was because of the atmosphere created in our ballpark.”