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Local season-ticket holders are ready to attend college football games

NATCHEZ — The college football season has begun and local season-ticket holders for LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss say they are ready to attend collegiate games again.

Dr. Robbie Savant, a Natchez veterinarian, said he has been a season-ticket holder for the LSU Tigers football team for 35 years. Savant said last season he had 10 season tickets and has taken his wife, daughter or son, his grandchildren and their spouses to home games at Tiger Stadium. But this season is different for collegiate football fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An LSU Athletics spokesperson said they gave their season-ticket holders three options for the 2020 season: fans can get their money back, roll the tickets over to next year or a season-ticket holder can keep their tickets and try to get into home games at Tiger Stadium.

“We made a choice to keep two of our tickets and roll the other eight tickets to next year,” Savant said. “We applied last year for season tickets and we paid for the tickets in March. As an LSU fan, why would you not want to apply for tickets after a national championship victory?”

Tiger Stadium will only have 25,580 of the stadium’s 102,321 seats available to fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans will be required to wear facemasks while at the games and tailgating on campus will not be allowed, according to an LSU Athletics spokesperson.

Savant said he will not be going to the LSU games with the restrictions in place and said Carol Loy, his daughter and Josh Loy, her husband, will attend the games this season.

“I am honestly intrigued to see what it will be like at home games,” Loy said. “We go to all of the football games for LSU. It’s going to be very different with all the rules and no tailgating. At the end, it’s still LSU football and that’s what we’re excited about.”

The No. 6 LSU Tigers’ first home game is at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against the Mississippi State University Bulldogs.

Mississippi State University

Tom Middleton, a consulting forester and petroleum landman, said he has been a Mississippi State University Bulldogs football season-ticket holder for at least 14 years. Middleton said he has taken his wife, Pam Middleton, his two sons, Alex Middleton and Avery Middleton and their two spouses, Brenna McCann and Hailey Middleton, to home football games at Davis Wade Stadium in the past. Middleton said they sit in section 338, row 1 and seats 12-18 at Davis Wade Stadium.

“I picked the middle row so there’s nobody getting over me and there’s nobody standing in front of me,” Middleton said.

But this season is different. Middleton said he was only allowed four season tickets for the 2020 season.

“My wife and I are going to the home games,” Middleton said. “The kids opted out this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Brandon Langlois, Associate Athletics Director/Communications at MSU, said Davis Wade Stadium would only have 15,334 of the stadium’s 61,337 seats available at the five home games this season due to the pandemic. In a press release, Langlois stated that fans must wear face coverings when they are moving around the stadium and fans would need to conduct a self-screening prior to leaving their homes. The self-screening includes a temperature check and a review of potential COVID-19 symptoms. Middleton said he has mixed emotions with the restrictions in place but thinks that MSU is doing the right thing to keep fans safe.

MSU begins the 2020 season at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at No. 6 LSU. The Bulldogs’ first home game is at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 3 against Arkansas.

Ole Miss

Matthew Hall, vice president of Commercial Lending at United Mississippi Bank in Natchez, said he has been a season-ticket holder for the Ole Miss Rebels football team for 35 years.

“We started in the mid ’80s with season tickets and I have not missed an Ole Miss home game in 20 years,” Hall said. “We were prepared to sit out a couple of months ago and were going to sit out this year. But we got tickets and we really like to get back to Oxford. It is a place we hold dear to our hearts. We love the city, campus and we love getting back up there and hanging out with people that we went to college with and have close friends and family that went to school there.”

Hall said his wife, Elizabeth, and his two daughters, Abigail and Caroline, go to home Ole Miss games at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Hall said they sit in section G, row 44, seats 13-16.

Ole Miss University athletics put in place safety guidelines in regards to the COIVD-19 pandemic for their home games. The seating capacity has been cut to 25%, which is about 16,009 seats of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium’s 64,308 capacity. Fans must wear face coverings, must keep 6-feet apart from other households and there is no tailgating at home games, according to an Ole Miss Athletics spokesperson. Hall said he understands why the guidelines are in place and is happy to be able to return to Oxford this season.

Ole Miss begins the season at 11 a.m. on Saturday against the No. 5 Florida Gators at Ole Miss.

Southern Miss University

Season-ticket holders for Southern Miss University Golden Eagles football games were given priority to buy tickets for the upcoming 2020 season.

USM distributed general admission tickets to season-ticket holders to sit in their usual section at M.M. Roberts Stadium, according to an USM spokesperson. There is a 25% seating capacity, which is about 9,000 seats for fans this season of M.M. Roberts Stadium’s 36,000 total capacity, this season under COVID-19 guidelines. Social distancing, face coverings and 6-feet distance between household groups will be in place for fans at M.M. Roberts Stadium, school officials said.

The Golden Eagles next home game is at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday against the Tulane Green Wave.