Virus Outbreak-Playoff Football

This Jan. 2, 2017, file pool photo, shows an aerial view of the empty Rose Bowl stadium before to the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game between Southern California and Penn State in Pasadena, Calif. No spectators will be allowed at the Rose Bowl for the College Football Playoff semifinal on Jan. 1 because of COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the state, county and city of Pasadena, The Tournament of Roses said Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. 

The Rose Bowl will be open at 100% capacity when LSU begins its football season against UCLA on Sept. 4.

The news arrived Tuesday, when officials from both UCLA and Southern Cal announced that their universities will welcome back full-capacity crowds for the 2021 football season.

The LSU-UCLA game would be the first fully attended football game for LSU since before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.

When LSU played its 10-game, conference-only season a year ago, Tiger Stadium was among the Southeastern Conference venues that were limited to 25% capacity.

Programs across the conference gradually increased their capacity limits at athletic venues after the football season ended. On April 30, LSU opened Alex Box Stadium at full capacity beginning with its three-game baseball series against Arkansas.

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While the SEC has not yet made an official announcement on stadium capacities for the upcoming football season, it is expected that its member stadiums will operate at full capacity. Tennessee announced in May that Neyland Stadium will be 100% open starting with its season-opener against Bowling Green on Sept. 2.

The nearly simultaneous announcements by UCLA and USC were significant developments in the reopening of college athletics, particularly due to the strict restrictions California has enforced throughout the pandemic.

The Pac-12 Conference initially canceled its 2020 football season in August amid the concerns for public health, and, by October, the league announced that it would play a seven-game, conference-only season that began in November.

The conference banned fans from attending games, and UCLA hosted four games at an empty Rose Bowl during its 3-4 season. The Bruins will now return to a full capacity crowd with its home opener against Hawaii on Aug. 28.

LSU has never played a football game inside the Rose Bowl, a historic venue that is mostly known for its heralded postseason bowl game. UCLA began playing its home games in Pasadena in 1982. LSU and UCLA have never previously played each other in football.

Email Brooks Kubena at bkubena@theadvocate.com.