Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck pondered his team's season-opening game against Ohio State on Sept. 2 and envisioned TCF Bank Stadium filled with fans and with no restrictions because of COVID-19.
"What I want to be able see is, hopefully and if it's safe enough, a full sellout,'' Fleck said in a May interview.
On Tuesday, the University of Minnesota athletic department took a big step toward that goal, announcing that it plans to operate at full capacity for live sporting events in the 2021-22 season. The first Gophers sports to return at full capacity will be soccer, volleyball and football.
"We are excited to safely welcome fans back into our venues," athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement. "We will follow all University, local and state guidelines, and we are looking forward to our fans once again providing a tremendous advantage for our Gopher student-athletes when they compete on campus. We are so thankful for our fans, donors and sponsors who helped provide necessary resources for our student-athletes last season, but we missed seeing and hearing them at games. We cannot wait to welcome everyone back to campus in a few months, while still providing our fans with a safe and enjoyable experience."
The Gophers football program also anticipates a return to usual fan activities, including tailgating, the team's Ski-U-March arrival, Gopher Garden activities and performances from the school's marching band.
The volleyball team will open its home season on Sept. 1 against Texas, while the soccer team's schedule has yet to be released.
In addition, the university will be transitioning to mobile tickets for all ticketed events on campus.