Tennessee’s “High School Football Capital” prepares for 2020 games
COOKEVILLE – Eighteen Tennessee high school football teams and their fans will soon descend upon Cookeville for TSSAA’s 2020 BlueCross Bowl. Due to the current health pandemic, the championships required special approval and restrictions from the governor’s office for TSSAA to carry out the games.
The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, under contract with TSSAA, will be serving as the host and is working to ensure the required restrictions as well as additional safety measures are implemented in order to keep guests and volunteers safe and healthy.
“With added safety measures for the BlueCross Bowl, we will need volunteers more than ever this year, but we want to be smart and as safe as possible in inviting local residents to participate in an event that has become a tradition for our community,” said Molly Brown, executive director for the visitors’ bureau.
A medical advisory group composed of area health professionals was formed to serve as a resource and offer guidance to ensure the safest environment for volunteers, staff and fans.
Safety precautions specifically for volunteers include:
- A streamlined volunteer check-in process providing volunteer access credential, a branded mask, hand sanitizer, individual snack and drink for shift, and event t-shirt.
- For volunteers in higher contact roles, e.g. parking, face shields and gloves will be available.
- A new location for volunteer check-in inside the Hooper Eblen Center will allow for less contact and a larger space for social distancing.
- Concerted efforts to assign volunteers to work with those from their household or social circle to limit new exposure.
- Volunteer parking has moved to gravel lot, adjacent to the new Marc. L. Burnett Student Recreation & Fitness Center to provide shorter walk and eliminate the enclosed space of shuttling.
- Virtual volunteer training will also be new this year.
- High contact roles, such as ticket sellers and program sellers have been eliminated for 2020.
Additional measures for all attendees to include:
- Masks and temperature checks will be required for all who enter campus.
- Online ticket sales ONLY to manage/monitor capacity and to reduce cash handling.
- Limited one-third stadium capacity and clearing of venue following each individual game.
- Increased sanitation of high traffic venue areas.
- Plexiglass barriers on all concession areas as well as outdoor concession option located in East Stadium.
- Reduced number of enclosed tents, e.g. Activity, Tennessee Athletic Coaches’ Association, Interview and VIP, will be eliminated for added social distancing measures; Media Tent will remain, but will be limited capacity with reservations required through TSSAA Media Contact Matthew Gillispie or by online form request.
- Press announcements, a Mask CAM, videoboard graphics, interior and exterior stadium signage will remind guests to social distance, wear masks and practice healthy hygiene.
Many local residents have been volunteering for years, seeing it as a great opportunity to play a role in showcasing the hospitality and sense of community.
“Volunteering for BlueCross Bowl has become a tradition for so many in our city and region,” said Brown. “We take pride in hosting this event but are also taking the health of our guests and our volunteers seriously by implementing the proper and recommended safety protocols.”
Championship games are set as follows:
(All game times are CT).
Thursday, Dec. 3
11 a.m. – Division II-AA
3 p.m. – Division II-A
7 p.m. – Division II-AAA
Friday, Dec. 4
11 a.m. – Division I Class 3A
3 p.m. – Division I Class 1A
7 p.m. – Division I Class 5A
Saturday, Dec. 5
11 a.m. – Division I Class 4A
3 p.m. – Division I Class 2A
7 p.m. – Division I Class 6A
Tickets available soon via digital purchase at CookevilleChampions.com. Tickets are $12 and admit for one game only.
For TSSAA information and playoff brackets, go to: tssaasports.com
Select videoboard sponsorship opportunities are still available. Current supporters include: Averitt Express, Chick-fil-a Cookeville, Cookeville Regional Medical Center, Twin Lakes and Papa John’s. Sponsorship contact: Brent Young, Brent_young@comcast.com