The Kansas Shrine Bowl will limit crowd size while also implementing other safety procedures for its 47th annual high school all-star football game July 18 at Hummer Sports Park.
Approximately 2,000 people will be allowed into the 7 p.m. game, including players, coaches, cheer teams, staff, media and fans. Typically, the game draws roughly 6,000 fans, and the last time it was held in Topeka, Yager Stadium at Washburn was sold out.
Hummer Sports Park will have guidelines in place to promote social distancing both in the grandstands and through additional space on the sidelines.
Face masks will be required off the field.
"We’re doing everything we can to execute a safe event," B.J. Harris, Kansas Shrine Bowl executive director, told Sports in Kansas in an interview this week. "There have been a lot of changes to what a typical year would be, but we’re going to try to give these kids an experience that kids have been having for 46 years prior."
Topeka products Jaylen Carter and Drake McCall, of Washburn Rural; Andrew Schmidtlein, of Hayden; Timirance Adams, of Shawnee Heights; and Dylan Wells, of Topeka West, are on the East roster.
Rural’s Steve Buhler will serve as head coach for the East, while Shawnee Heights’ Jason Swift will be an assistant coach for the East.
Training camps will open Sunday in Topeka, with the East team practicing at Washburn Rural and the West practicing at Shawnee Heights.
Harris said each team will be provided masks to wear according to county guidelines when not practicing. The teams will be housed at the Ramada Hotel and Convention Center in downtown Topeka, and interactions with the public, as well as sponsors and shrine clubs, have been canceled.
"It’s just not going to be the way this year," Harris said. "But we’re going to have a fun time and it will still be a highlight for the kids."
With the crowd limitations in place, Harris said fans who don’t already have their tickets ordered likely would not be able to attend Saturday’s game, but are encouraged to watch the broadcast on television or listen on radio.
"I can’t believe I’m sitting here telling people not to come to our game," Harris said. "But that’s just how it has to be this year. Family, friends, close relatives primarily, that’s about all we’ll be able to have this year."