Since taking over the football program at Georgia Southern, coach Chad Lunsford has preached the “Power of Paulson.” He has repeatedly said how important it is for the team to have a good crowd at home games, and how the players feed off of the energy.
Wednesday afternoon the University of Georgia announced ticket plans that call for allowing 20% to 25% capacity at home games. Sanford Stadium holds nearly 93,000 which would mean between 18,500 and 23,000 for each of Georgia’s four home games.
If similar numbers are used at Paulson Stadium that would mean 20% to 25% of 25,000 capacity, which would be between 5,000 and 6,250 for each of the six home games.
“The biggest thing that concerns me about a lack of fans at the games is the experience for the players,” said Lunsford. “A lot of our guys fell in love with Georgia Southern because of the game day atmosphere. I do think our team is mature enough to handle it if capacity is not able to be reached because of COVID.”
Paulson is something else on a Saturday night,” Lunsford said. “I would hate that they would miss out on that if it goes that way, but we still have our fingers crossed that we can get more people in.”
Georgia Southern players echoed coach Lunsford’s thoughts that while it would be disappointing to not play before their usual crowds at Paulson Stadium, they feel it won’t affect their play on the field.
“It would be a little tough, because we do love our fans,” said senior running back Wesley Fields. “We love our fans, but we don’t need our fans. We are self motivated and we are always going to push hard regardless. As long as we have their support we are going to play for them. It may be a little tough to get up, but we know how to bring our own energy.”
“We come out here and practice hard every day in front of nobody,” said senior receiver Darion Anderson. “We know how to bring our own energy, so if that happens we know we have to bring our own energy.”
Georgia Southern athletics director Jared Benko has stated that they plan on opening up the hills, and are trying to find ways to extend capacity in order to extend the number of fans allowed at home games.
“You have a capacity component that would come down from the state,” Benko said. “You then have the social distance aspect. That is what is going to drive the capacity number. When you add that it knocks out seats, it knocks out rows. We are working on a lot of things to try to make capacity larger to increase our numbers.”
Georgia Southern is expected to make a decision regarding capacity and the numbers they will be allowing within the next week.