PIAA drastically cuts football championship tickets to meet Gov. Wolf’s order

Tuesday, November 24, 2020 | 2:15 PM

State championship football teams will receive 386 tickets apiece from the PIAA for this weekend’s games, far fewer than originally planned.

The PIAA reduced its ticket sales after Gov. Tom Wolf implemented tighter gathering limits on events statewide, restricting Hersheypark Stadium to 5% of capacity. The PIAA had originally intended to allot close to 1,000 tickets per school but abandoned those plans after Wolf’s announcement Monday.

PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi informed schools of the new ticket policy Tuesday.

“They’re very upset,” Lombardi said. “But I think people are pretty in tuned to the announcement (from the governor). We’re not fielding as many calls today as we did yesterday.”

The governor’s order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday. As a result, the Pittsburgh Steelers game on Thursday night can have increased spectators, but the PIAA championships Friday and Saturday must abide by the new restrictions.

The order was implemented to mitigate potential coronavirus spread.

Lombardi said the PIAA reached out to the Wolf administration for assistance and was told the stricter restrictions must be followed for the state championships.

“It would have been great if (the order took effect) Sunday or Monday,” Lombardi said. “We were going to have limited ticketing anyway, but this really reduced them. It’s just unfortunate.”

According to the governor’s outdoor restrictions:

• Capacity is capped at 15% for venues with a maximum occupancy up to 2,000;

• Capacity is capped at 10% for venues with an occupancy up to 10,000;

• For venues that hold more than 10,000, capacity is capped at 5% up to 2,500.

Hersheypark Stadium’s capacity is around 15,600, putting the venue in the largest category. At 5% of capacity, total attendance would be limited to 780.

“Five percent, that’s ridiculous. We’ll have less fans than we had at our last home game,” said Bill Cherpak, Thomas Jefferson athletic director and football coach. “You could put 1,500 people on both sides of that stadium and never even get near each other.”

Four WPIAL teams will take part in the state championships.

Thomas Jefferson plays Jersey Shore in the Class 4A final at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

On Friday, Jeannette plays Steelton-Highspire in the Class A championship at 11 a.m., Central Valley plays Wyomissing in 3A at 3:30 p.m., and Pine-Richland plays Cathedral Prep in 5A and 8 p.m.

The other Saturday games match Southern Columbia vs. Wilmington in 2A at 11 a.m., and St. Joseph’s Prep vs. Central York in 6A at 8 p.m.

In early October, Wolf had limited outdoor gatherings to 15% of capacity at facilities that held more than 10,000 with a maximum of 7,500 individuals.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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