Less than a month ago, at the end of May, Gary Barta announced that Iowa was moving ahead with plans for Kinnick Stadium to be at full capacity this fall. That seemed tremendously optimistic at the time and, indeed, it was. Reality is now setting in and the harsh truth of this reality is that the notion of 69,000 fans filling Kinnick Stadium in just over two months is simply not going to happen. Not in the middle of a global pandemic that continues to ravage the United States in particular.
On Monday Iowa announced that it was "pausing" ticket sales indefinitely. New sales of Fight for Iowa digital season pass, mini-plans, group, Hawkeye Village, and single-game tickets are on hold "until a clearer picture of Kinnick Stadium capacity and social distancing requirements are determined." The current plan is to create seating models based on existing season ticket holders (those who have renewed and completed their per-seat donations by June 30). There was no mention of student tickets in the release from Iowa.
Again, this move comes as no surprise and is, if anything, overdue. Several other universities (including Iowa State) have already announced plans for reduced capacity at games in the fall. Given the current spread of COVID-19 and the meager attempts at mitigation currently ongoing in many regions, the idea of any fans in the stands at football games this fall looks pretty fanciful to me. (The idea of any actual football games at all also seems like it might be a bit fanciful, although that's perhaps a topic for another post.)
Iowa announced one other notable change to tickets (for all sports, not just football): paper tickets are a thing of the past if you want to attend Iowa games. Iowa is moving to a mobile-only model for ticketing. Per the release: "Mobile tickets and parking passes will be scanned from smartphones or smartwatches to access parking lots and gates. Traditional paper tickets and parking hangtags will not be printed and mailed."
The release also clarified that this includes PDF ticket print-outs as well as the paper (cardboard) tickets previously printed and distributed by the ticket office. If you're a ticketholder who doesn't have a smartphone, uh, well that's going to be a bit of a problem. (Although there will be options available for those individuals -- they're encouraged to contact the UI Athletics Ticket Office for further information.)
The pandemic provides a good reason to move away from physical tickets (one less point of contact to potentially spread the virus), but this move was likely coming soon with or without COVID-19. Several professional sports teams have already moved to mobile tickets exclusively and if you've bought a ticket through SeatGeek, StubHub, or Ticketmaster in the last few years, you should have some idea of what to expect. Per Iowa, ticket holders will be able to download tickets and parking passes to Apple Wallet or Google Pay to make accessible for easy scanning.
Parking passes are also moving to mobile-only beginning with the 2020 season; they'll operate largely the same way as game tickets. (More information is available in the release.) And finally, the Hawkeye Express won't be making any stops at Kinnick Stadium in 2020; the train will not run before or after home games this fall.
Again, this all presumes that fans -- any number of fans -- are allowed to attend games this fall. And that there are actual games to attend at all. Right now he certainty of those statements being true two months from now feels... not great. We'll see how the next 4-6 weeks unfold.