With Big Ten football set to start this weekend, mayors from 11 of the conference's cities have written an open letter to the league regarding COVID-19.
The mayors of Lincoln (Nebraska), New Brunswick/Piscataway (Rutgers), and Champaign (Illinois) were the only Big Ten mayors who did not sign the letter, which requests guidance from the league in dealing with containing the spread of COVID-19.
There won't be any fans at Big Ten games this fall, but the mayors are concerned about the influx of people into their areas/municipalities because of these contests.
“We know the history of football games within our cities,” the letter reads. “They generate a lot of activity, social gatherings and consumption of alcohol. These activities within our communities have also been associated with an increased spread of COVID-19. We, as cities, continue to respond to issues as they arise, respective of the individual rules put in place within our regions. To help us slow the spread and be prepared for increased activity, we humbly request a few practical measures that the Big Ten Conference can take to ensure we have the tools we need to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
The Big Ten has said it will move forward with games this season as long as the positivity rates within programs remain under a particular threshold.
The mayors' letter also asks the league to consider taking into account the positivity rates of local communities when deciding if it is safe to hold a game as scheduled.
"Please include the communities where you will be holding games in your conversations and assign a metric to this that is similar to what has already been laid out for your teams," the letter says. "We ask that you work with local and county health officials in these communities to define a population positivity rate, where hosting a football game that would bring increased activity into the community is no longer safe to do. We do not expect this metric to be in line with the current standard for the team; however, similar standards being applied to the communities this will affect is necessary to keep people safe."
Big Ten football will begin on Friday night. After originally opting to postpone its season, the conference is the fourth of the Power Five leagues to play this fall.
The Pac-12, the last remaining holdout, will open play next month.