Capacity Limitations A Major Issue As MIL Football Calendar Release Looms | News, Sports, Jobs

Students from Kamehameha Schools Maui applaud during a MIL football game at Kanaiaupuni Stadium on October 14, 2017. How many fans in the stands will be allowed at venues is one of the next big questions to be answered as sports MIL are returning this fall. Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

As the wait for the unveiling of the 2021 Maui Interscholastic League football schedule continues, attention has recently turned to how many fans will be allowed into the four venues that will host the games.

Although restrictions on public gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic have eased recently, they are not yet to the point where full capacity can still be granted.

A typical MIL football schedule would include 20 regular season games: eight games at War Memorial Stadium, a county facility; four at Kanaiaupuni Stadium, a private school on the Kamehameha Schools Maui campus; and four each at the Sue Cooley Stadium public school facilities on the Lahainaluna campus and King Kekaulike Stadium.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino addressed the issue of how many fans will be allowed into War Memorial Stadium during his press conference on Tuesday.

“Well, we’ll see where we are with regard to the accounts” said Victorino. “And right now, if we hit 70% vaccination, the total vaccination of our population, the governor has agreed to drop all restrictions. I always hope we keep some physical distance – we have a lot of room there. We could put about 4,000 or 5,000 people in the stadium which can currently hold about 10,000, 12,000. So there is plenty of room, so we’re going to continue because I don’t think the war memorial (stadium ) is a big problem.

The War Memorial Stadium is shown in this photo taken earlier this year. According to a typical MIL football schedule, Wailuku Stadium would host eight of the league’s 20 regular season games. Maui County / Shane Tegarden photo

“I would be more concerned about the smaller stadiums like Lahaina (luna), Kamehameha, King Kekaulike, those schools that have nice grounds, nice facilities, but a lot less capacity. So if you have a large crowd, they will have to deal with it and (the state Department of Education) is already talking about how they can deal with it.

As of Thursday, the state had a fully vaccinated COVID vaccination rate of 58.0% and 62.5% had started vaccination, according to the state health ministry. Governor David Ige has said that when the state achieves a 70 percent vaccination rate, all restrictions will be lifted.

School starts in early August and with no pre-season non-championship games to play – an announcement MIL officials made last month – MIL football games are expected to start in late August or early September.

Negotiations are underway between the Maui County Department of Parks and Recreation and MIL officials over rules for using War Memorial Stadium – a scheduled meeting was postponed Monday and then held Tuesday.

“I’m really encouraged, but there are some things we still need to be aware of for the future”, MIL President Jamie Yap said Wednesday.

Yap, the principal of Maui High, marked his school’s graduation in May when a special permit was issued by the county allowing 1,300 people to enter War Memorial Stadium for the event, including graduates.

“Like our graduation ceremony, and this rule has not changed, the stadium is only open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm”, Yap said. “So our graduation had to end and we had to leave the stadium at 7:00 p.m.”

Yap then addressed the number of people currently allowed in public places statewide.

“At the moment, you can have, in an open setting, 200 people”, Yap said. “So if we had to consider 200 people in the stadium, it would be 100 per team, players, staff and possibly cheerleaders. This is the rule today.

Earlier this week, Ige said COVID restrictions will be further relaxed on July 8.

“Going to level 5, it can have an impact on restaurants and maybe other places on the number of people who can be in a place”, Yap said. “And if the governor gives autonomy to each mayor, mayor Victorino will have the autonomy to determine, as he mentioned, how many people we can put in the stadium.”

Yap added that several government agencies are involved in the whole process.

“We are waiting for the DOH to come up with guidelines that will support athletics, and in particular football, as football will be one of the first sports that we will deal with,” he added. Yap said.

Yap has indicated that a scheduled meeting of MIL athletic directors next Tuesday is the possible day when the long-awaited football schedule could be released.

“We have a calendar, a traditional calendar to start without pre-season, in part”, Yap said. “But, you know, like (Tuesday’s meeting), we have to go back and forth on the use of the sites and the schedule and all that stuff. That’s why… things are still open. When we are more closed next week Tuesday, we will be closer to the closure of the DOH dealing with athletics.

“So I think the DOE may need to approach athletics in their own facilities using the DOH guidelines, as the DOH guidelines will apply to all sports, private, public and private and public schools. “

Yap said not releasing the schedule yet is complex.

“We want to give the answers, but there are so many more variables in place than if we say it too early and change it, which is the real message why you don’t get it right away. “ Yap said. “If everyone can just be patient and wait, we can be more specific in the future. … I don’t see us backing down. I see us moving forward.

* Robert Collias is at [email protected]

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