Yale Daily News

Many season ticket holders for Yale Athletics games were left distraught after the Athletic Department barred non-University community members from attending home varsity competitions — regardless of their vaccination status. 

On Jan. 12, Yale Athletics announced a new, tighter set of spectator policies, limiting home attendance at indoor and outdoor venues to members of the University community. Despite move-in between Jan. 18 and Feb. 4, undergraduates are barred from attending games until Feb. 7, when in-person instruction is scheduled to resume. The updated restrictions will extend through till Monday, Feb. 2, leaving many season ticket holders unable to attend games for the remainder of the winter season. 

“Absolutely, the restrictions are too severe. I am by no means an anti-vaxxer nor am I flippant regarding this virus, but Yale really seems to go overboard with their restrictions,” Denny Keyes, a men’s hockey season ticket holder, said. 

A number of fans also share Keyes’ sentiment, believing that attendance at a number of Yale teams’ home matches is already low — regardless of the restrictions. 

“I definitely think the restrictions are too strict, especially for the women’s games, which already have so few spectators,” Stu Comen, a long-time Yale hockey fan and Silliman dining hall worker, said. 

The most anticipated women’s hockey game of the season so far — a home tilt against rival Harvard — was one of just a few opportunities for students to pick up their tickets to the Yale-Harvard football game. Even with the added incentive to attend, Ingalls Rink saw just 1,124 fans in the 2,625 available seats, less than half of the venue’s already-reduced capacity due to the pandemic. 

Stu Cohen, an avid fan of Yale football and hockey, shared in his discontentment with the new policies. 

“I can’t understand why 95 percent of the country’s college hockey [programs] are allowing fans and [there are a] few that aren’t,” Cohen said.  

Similar to its COVID-19 policies for the University, Yale Athletics’ guidelines are stricter than a number of peer institutions in the Ivy League. 

Boston-native Fred Isbell ’82 arranges an annual get-together with the Yale Club of Boston to attend the Yale-Harvard men’s hockey game in Cambridge. While Yale still has a “no guest” policy until late Feb, Harvard Athletics announced that as of Jan. 25, fans can attend games, provided they are masked and vaccinated. 

“The game is Feb. 11, and [we] got the word that spectators are back. No exclusion to the Harvard community like Yale,” Isbell said. 

Yale’s Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications Mike Gambardella did not respond to a request for comment on potential refunds and how the Athletic Department plans to cope with the lack of ticket revenue.  

“I don’t expect them to offer much more than a credit toward next season, but I couldn’t resist making the request [for a refund],” season ticket holder Fred Sundermann said.

Since the Athletic Department’s announcement, Sundermann emailed Yale’s ticket office twice asking for a refund on his tickets and parking pass. Though the Athletic Department has stayed publicly silent on its plans, the office has been returning emails to certain season ticket holders. 

In an email to Keyes, the ticket office specified that there will be reimbursement options, but has not yet made clear what those options will be. 

In an email to Sundermann on Jan. 13, the ticket office said that “due to the new attendance policies, the Yale ticket office is finalizing our reimbursement options to all season ticket holders. Once these options are finalized, you will be notified immediately. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.” 

In a follow-up email sent on Jan. 26, the ticket office further clarified to Sundermann that an email regarding reimbursements would be “sent shortly” and that an announcement would be made “by the end of this week.”

For now, the only option these fans have is to watch the games on ESPN+. The first home game after the no-guest period is a women’s basketball matchup against Cornell on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 2 p.m.