It’ll be at least a little louder when James Madison hosts William & Mary on March 13.
On Wednesday, JMU announced plans to welcome 1,000 fans to Bridgeforth Stadium beginning next month. Earlier Wednesday, Gov. Ralph Northam loosened coronavirus restrictions for outdoor sports venues and those relaxed protocols will go into effect on March 1.
Up until Wednesday’s revised orders from Northam, all outdoor sports and entertainment venues were capped at 250 spectators. New orders allow for the lesser of 1,000 fans or 30 percent capacity of the venue to attend an event.
Per JMU’s release, tickets will be split between students, members of the Marching Royal Dukes and Duke Club members in addition to family and friends of JMU players and coaches.
This past Saturday, only friends and family of players and coaches were in attendance for the Dukes’ 52-0 romp of Morehead State. Dukes senior defensive end Mike Greene compared the crowd to one of a traditional spring game.
On Tuesday, JMU safety MJ Hampton said players did have to make an adjustment to playing in front of a small crowd. In 2019, JMU averaged 18,108 spectators per home game.
“I’d say this year is more ridden on self-energy,” Hampton said, “so it kind of sucks. Now, you don’t get the big whole crowd on third down making this noise or that noise, but at the end of the day you’ve got to go out there and play.”
The Dukes’ home game against Robert Morris for this Saturday will still be played under the 250-spectator restriction.
“I did hear players comment that it was different because they get breaks between series and I’m sure it was,” JMU coach Curt Cignetti said. “But I think they did a really good job of locking in on doing their job when they were in there, and we just like to compete and play.”