The road to the College World Series began this Friday, and we have the latest NCAA baseball regional capacity rules. The CDC loosened its Covid-19 recommendations, and the NCAA followed suit, allowing schools to welcome full-capacity crowds.
For the tournament, 64 teams compete in 16 regionals that are seeded one through 16. Each of those regionals consists of a four-team double-elimination tournament to determine a regional champion.
Next, the regional champions pair up in eight best-of-three super regional matchups. (The top eight seeds can host super regionals if they win their regionals. If not, the team with the highest seed between the two regional champions hosts.)
Finally, the eight super regional winners play in the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. A double-elimination tournament determines the final two teams standing. Then, they play each other in a three-game series to crown a national champion.
Now, here’s a look at the latest NCAA baseball regional capacity guidelines.
Top Eight All at 100%
- The University of Arkansas took home the top overall seed, and the Razorbacks will play in front of a full home crowd. They dropped all capacity limits in the final week of the regular season.
- Second-seeded University of Texas lifted all capacity restrictions just hours before its final home series of the regular season – and its softball regional – began.
- The University of Tennessee (no. 3 overall) removed all capacity restrictions in time for its final regular season home series of the year.
- Vanderbilt University, the no. 4 seed, also opened its stadium to full capacity for the final week of its regular season.
- The University of Arizona lifted capacity restrictions just in time to host a softball regional at full capacity. Now, the fifth-seeded Wildcats will host a baseball regional in front of a full home crowd.
- Texas Christian University (TCU) officially lifted capacity restrictions about two weeks ago. The no. 6 Horned Frogs will welcome a full crowd this weekend.
- No. 7 seed Mississippi State University has been operating at 100% capacity and even posted its second-highest weekend attendance in school history this April.
- No. 8 Texas Tech University began scaling up to full attendance in March.
Each of the top eight teams can host fans at full capacity, and the top eight seeds host super regionals if they advance.
More Full Capacity Regionals
- Notre Dame University will welcome fans at full capacity as the tenth-seeded Fighting Irish host a regional for the first time since 2004.
- The University of South Carolina moved to full capacity starting in the final week of its regular season.
- Due to uncertainty surrounding Covid, the NCAA pre-selected 20 potential host sites (from which these 16 hosts came) in April. South Carolina received one of the final 16 hosting spots; however, the Gamecocks fell off the top seed line. So, no. 11 Old Dominion University, which did not bid to host, will be the top-ranked team in South Carolina’s regional.
- Twelfth-seeded Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi) has been hosting fans at full capacity and recorded its highest-ever weekend attendance this spring.
- East Carolina University took home the thirteenth seed and will host a full home crowd for the first time since the pandemic began.
- No. 15 University of Florida announced that it is lifting capacity limits at baseball and softball games.
- Louisiana Tech University increased baseball capacity to 100%. The Bulldogs just rebuilt their stadium, which fans affectionately call the “Love Shack,” after a tornado. Louisiana Tech took home the sixteenth seed and final regional host spot.
Three of these schools won, but no upsets above them allowed them to host. However, they still got full-capacity sendoffs to super regionals.
Restrictions Still in Place
- No. 9 seed Stanford University will host its regional at 25% capacity. California is beginning to reopen; however, restrictions on sports crowds still apply for about two more weeks.
- On May 7, the University of Oregon began welcoming fans at 15% capacity as state and local Covid rules eased slightly. On May 30, they raised capacity again, adding sections for fully vaccinated fans. These changes should allow the fourteenth-seeded Ducks to welcome more fans this weekend.
These teams didn’t get to host fans at all until recently, so the return of the home crowd was no doubt a boost. Stanford advanced, while Oregon fell short in the final game.
Finally, the grand prize, the College World Series, will be played at 100% capacity.
As sports venues return to full capacity, industry leaders trust IIFX and their Return to Work, Play, and Spectate guide for reopening. Get the guide here.