When high school athletes return to competition next week, they won’t be alone.

On Wednesday, Gov. Tim Walz announced that some fans will be able to attend both high school and youth sporting events when they can resume Jan. 14.

Both indoor and outdoor venues will be limited to 25% capacity. Up to 150 people can attend competitions at indoor venues, while up to 250 can attend outdoor events.

The decision comes as a relief to those hoping to attend, as there was still uncertainty on the status of fans when the return to competition was announced last week.

“It’s always satisfying when you can have some fans in the stands, for the kids to be able to have somebody to play in front of,” Mankato West activities director Joe Johnson said. “It’s a different experience playing in an empty gym or any venue that we might have.”

Activities directors now have to determine how many fans can attend their respective venues, before determining how tickets will be distributed. The number of people who can attend will likely depend on the respective venue’s dimensions, with social distancing guidelines being a factor.

In the fall, the Big Nine Conference operated under a system that gave each athlete two tickets per competition — home and away. Johnson said that model may be the same for winter sports and would likely include athletes in B squad and up.

Mankato East activities director Todd Waterbury said the school hoped to do at least two tickets per athlete, but acknowledged that it could vary because some indoor venues won’t be able to reach 150 people with proper social distancing.

Waterbury and Johnson both said they hope to be able provide information regarding attendance quickly.

Follow Kevin Dudley on Twitter @Dudley7Kevin.

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