Jeannette superintendent sends letter to Gov. Wolf concerning fan limitation

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Saturday, September 5, 2020 | 9:44 PM


Jeannette’s fan base is about as loyal as they come in the WPIAL. Devoted fans follow the Jayhawks wherever they go, especially in football.

Remember, this is a town that sold chunks of grass from McKee Stadium when the longtime home field went to artificial turf last year. Some people planted the sod in their yards.

So it comes as no surprise that the school district is concerned about the state’s limitation of 250 people at outdoor sports events with a new season about to begin.

Jeannette Superintendent Matt Jones sent a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf asking him to rescind or adjust the maximum number so more spectators can come through the gates at venerable McKee. Fourth-ranked Jeannette opens the season next Friday night at home against top-ranked Clairton, its Class A Eastern Conference rival.

Someone joked that fans will be climbing the water tower above the stadium to get a peek at the matchup.

Jones said when you count teams and other “essential” game day personal, Jeannette would quickly hit the 250 number and would only be able to let in fewer than 30 fans.

The outdoor number also applies to other fall sports such as soccer, but Jeannette feels football will be directly impacted by the clampdown.

Many school districts are concerned fans will gather outside of front gates or on hillsides around stadiums to watch football games.

“This limitation has been extremely difficult to our families and added additional stress to families that need the support and confidence in their state leader at this time,” Jones wrote in the letter.

Mt. Pleasant Superintendent Tim Gabauer previously addressed the same issue with his own letter to Wolf. Mt. Pleasant requested 25 percent capacity at Vikings Stadium, which also holds 4,000.

People like Jones and Gabauer are in a tough spot. Community members and longtime fans are voicing their opinions and pointing their frustration at school boards over the spectator limitation.

But, as Jones said, “Our hands are tied due to the current restrictions.”

His letter, he hopes, can influence change in the state’s requirement.

He said McKee Stadium can hold 4,000 people and that about 50% of the student body is participating in games on Friday nights.

“I ask that you put aside the rhetoric and consider that students in communities like ours need the support of their families and citizens as they pursue their passions as athletes and musicians,” Jones added. “Our school district provides emotional support, a sense of belonging to a community, and the healing that is so desperately needed. That healing includes the athletic events our families have supported for more over a century in the City of Jeannette. Mr. Wolf, I implore you to do your part in supporting the healing process and bring our community and our commonwealth together. … Don’t miss the opportunity.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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