BLACKSBURG, Va. (HokieSports.com) – Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock announced on Tuesday that Tech Athletics is not planning to host a traditional spring football game in 2021. Following the local and state guidelines, and in consultation with campus officials, we determined that we would not be able to provide our traditional fan experience, and it would not be in the best interest of the Blacksburg and Virginia Tech communities to hold a spring game in 2021.
Babcock and Tech officials are hopeful that state, local health department restrictions limiting capacities at outdoor sports venues in Virginia will be further eased to allow fans to return to Lane Stadium in greater capacities this fall.
"Regrettably, given the current restrictions in place and out of concern for the health and well-being of our community, our student-athletes and our fans, we have made the decision to not have a spring football game," Babcock said. "We realize this is disappointing for many and certainly for our football team, but we believe that it is the proper decision for the Virginia Tech community and the town of Blacksburg. Additionally, we did not want to provide our fans with an experience which would be far less than they are accustomed to at Lane Stadium, including no tailgating. We certainly hope and expect this fall that they can enjoy our full gameday environment with Hokie Village, the Hokie Walk, the Marching Virginians, the Corps of Cadets, the VT Spirit Squads, tailgating and more.
"The final element of conducting a spring game that proved problematic was determining an equitable way to allocate the very limited amount of tickets we would have been permitted to issue," Babcock concluded. "With the limit at 1,000, it would have been limited to guests of student-athletes and would not have provided an opportunity for many fans to come to Lane Stadium anyway. Even if the appropriate officials and agencies were to move to a increased attendance protocol in the near term, it's just too soon to jump back into it. I wish we could and we will soon; when it's appropriate. We will be offering our fans enhanced, behind-the-scenes features from spring football practices and our creative team will deliver exclusive interviews and other special features to our donors and fans throughout spring ball."
"Lane Stadium was not the same without Hokie Nation last year," said head coach Justin Fuente. "Our coaches and student-athletes are working hard to be ready for the start of the 2021 season and are excited to have spring practice again. We cannot wait to have our fans jumping in Lane Stadium this fall and I am looking forward to running out of our tunnel with 'Enter Sandman' playing. Our entire team is looking forward to seeing and hearing our fans in full force this season."
Tech Athletics is making enhancements at Lane Stadium in preparations for the 2021 football season. Those improvements include the installation of over 200 hand sanitizing stations, contactless concession options, as well as preparations for socially distanced seating (if necessary) and more.
Tech is scheduled to host seven games at Lane Stadium this season, kicking the year off with a conference clash with North Carolina on either Thursday, Sept. 2 or Friday, Sept. 3. The Hokies will begin the season with North Carolina for the first time since 1946. In a series that dates back to 1895, the Hokies own a 24-13-6 all-time advantage against the Tar Heels. Tech has won its last two home meetings against North Carolina, including the longest game in ACC history, a six-OT, 43-41 victory in 2019.
Tech and Notre Dame will square off for the fourth time and only the second time at Lane Stadium when the Fighting Irish visit on Oct. 9. Six of Tech's first seven games are at home in 2021.