While the wait continues for the 2021 Maui Interscholastic League soccer schedule to be released, lately attention has drawn to how many fans will be admitted to the four venues for the Games.
While restrictions on public gatherings have recently been eased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are not yet at the point where full capacity can be granted.
A typical MIL soccer schedule would include 20 regular season games: eight games at War Memorial Stadium, a county facility; four at Kanaiaupuni Stadium, a private school facility on the Kamehameha Schools Maui campus; and four each in public school facilities at Sue Cooley Stadium on the Lahainaluna campus and King Kekaulike Stadium.
Maui County’s Mayor Michael Victorino addressed the question of how many fans can enter War Memorial Stadium at his press conference Tuesday.
“Well, we’ll see where we stand on the count.” said Victorino. “And right now, when we hit 70 percent vaccination, the total vaccination of our population, the governor has agreed to lift all restrictions. I would still hope that we keep some physical distance – we have a lot of space there. We could get about 4,000 or 5,000 people into the stadium, which can hold about 10,000, 12,000 right now. So there is a lot of space so we’re going to move on because I don’t think the War Memorial (stadium) is a big problem.
“I would be more concerned about the smaller stadiums like Lahaina (luna), Kamehameha, King Kekaulike, these schools with beautiful fields, beautiful facilities, but much less capacity. So if you have a large crowd they have to deal with it and (the state department of education) is already talking about how to deal with it. “
As of Thursday, the state was fully vaccinated at a COVID vaccination rate of 58.0 percent, and 62.5 percent have started vaccinating, according to the state Department of Health. Governor David Ige has stated that if the state reaches a 70 percent vaccination rate, all restrictions will be lifted.
School starts in early August and with no pre-season outside of the league games – an announcement MIL officials made last month – MIL football games are expected to start in late August or early September.
Negotiations are ongoing between the Maui County Parks and Recreation Department and MIL officials over rules of use for the War Memorial Stadium – a scheduled meeting was postponed Monday and then held on Tuesday.
“I am definitely encouraged, but there are some things that we still need to be aware of with a view to the future.” MIL President Jamie Yap said on Wednesday.
Yap, the principal of Maui High, pointed to the graduation of his school in May when the district issued special permits allowing 1,300 people, including alumni, to attend the event at War Memorial Stadium.
“As with our graduation, and this rule has not changed, the stadium is only open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.” Yep said. “So our graduation had to end and we had to be out of the stadium by 7pm.”
Yap then addressed the number of people currently admitted to public facilities nationwide.
“Right now you can have 200 people in an open environment”, Yep said. “So if we take 200 people in the stadium into account, that would be 100 per team, player, staff and possibly cheerleaders. That is the rule today. “
Earlier this week, Ige said the COVID restrictions will be eased even further on July 8th.
“By moving to level 5, restaurants and possibly other venues can have an impact on how many people can be in a venue.” Yep said. “And if the governor gives each mayor autonomy, then Mayor Victorino has the autonomy, as he said, to determine how many people we can bring into the stadium.”
Yap added that several government agencies are involved in the whole process.
“We are waiting for the DOH to present guidelines that support athletics and especially football, because football will be one of the first sports we will deal with.” Yep said.
Yap pointed to a scheduled meeting of MIL sports directors next Tuesday as the possible day the long-awaited football schedule could be released.
“We have a schedule, a traditional schedule, to partially start without a preseason.” Yep said. “But you know how (that Tuesday meeting) we have to go back and forth about the use of the venues and the timing and all that stuff. Therefore … things are still open. If we close Tuesday next week, we will be closer to the DOH, which deals with athletics, closing.
“I think the DOE may need to deal with athletics in its own facilities using the DOH guidelines as the DOH guidelines will apply to all athletics, private, public schools, and private and public institutions.”
Yap said the end result would be complex if the schedule hasn’t been released.
“We want to provide the answers, but there are so many more variables that if we say things too soon and then change what the real message is, why don’t you get things right away.” Yep said. “If everyone can just be patient and wait, we can move forward more accurately. … I do not see that we are going backwards. I see that we are making progress. “
* Robert Collias is at [email protected]
The War Memorial Stadium can be seen in this photo taken earlier this year. Under a standard MIL football schedule, Wailuku Stadium would host eight of the league’s 20 regular season games. County of Maui / Shane Tegarden Photo Kamehameha Schools Maui students cheer during a MIL soccer game at Kanaiaupuni Stadium on October 14, 2017. How many fans are allowed in the stands at the venues is one of the next big questions to be asked need to be answered as MIL Sport returns this fall. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER Photo
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