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Barrett calls on Whitmer to increase capacity for high school football finals

‘Student-athletes can safely compete and celebrate with family and friends’

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tom Barrett on Thursday sent a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, urging her administration to allow more fans to attend upcoming high school football championship games safely.

Barrett’s letter was co-signed by state Reps. Ben Frederick and Graham Filler.

“There is no reason to limit attendance to 250 fans when Ford Field has seating capacity for 65,000,” said Barrett, R-Charlotte. “With masks and an abundance of space for social distancing, high school student-athletes should be able to compete and celebrate their achievements safely with their families and friends.”

“The arbitrary cap mandated by the epidemic order will prevent many friends and family members from supporting the players in one of the most significant opportunities in their high school careers,” the trio of mid-Michigan legislators wrote in their letter. “For this reason, we respectfully request that your administration increases the capacity limit for large athletic venues to provide safe accommodation for more guests.”

The letter was sent ahead of the Michigan High School Athletic Association 11-player football finals on Friday and Saturday, which will be played at Ford Field in Detroit. Under the current epidemic order issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, the maximum gathering size at sporting venues is limited to 250 persons, regardless of stadium size. If this restriction remains in place for the championship games, it would prevent, despite the size of Ford Field, many friends and relatives from attending what should be an important, celebratory milestone for high school football players.

Two schools in the 24th Senate District, which Barrett represents, will have teams competing in the finals over the weekend. New Lothrop High School, represented by Rep. Frederick, will play St. Francis High School of Traverse City at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Division 7 finals. DeWitt High School, in Rep. Filler’s district, will face River Rouge High School for the Division 3 title at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.