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Businesses Forced to Close See 25,000 Fans in Ames as Inconsistent Message


AMES, Iowa — As an Iowa State fan, Andy McCormick is excited that 25,000 fans will be cheering on the Cyclones in their home opener inside Jack Trice Stadium.

“My family, we are huge Cyclones fans,” said McCormick. As owner of Torrent Brewing Company in Ames, which was forced to close, McCormick’s feelings are not as joyful. “It just took the wind out. Just totally super unexpected,” he said.

He has been shut down until at least Sept. 20 because of the governor’s emergency health proclamation. McCormick, along with other owners of breweries, bars, and nightclubs in Story County and five other Iowa counties, were more shocked to see Iowa State hosting fans on Sept. 12 when his brewery cannot have anyone seated on a patio that fits 20 customers.

“It is interesting how a private entity such as us can be controlled, but a state-run entity just sort of has freedom to make their own guidelines,” said McCormick, referring to Iowa State.

Alcohol will not be sold inside the stadium and tailgating is prohibited. Elliot Thompson, owner of Alluvial Brewing Company in Ames, agrees with McCormick.

“I understand sports does certain things for the community, but it seems irresponsible at this point in time,” said Thompson.

Many of the proclamation victims are also surprised Iowa State is given such leeway because of its possible role in Ames now being number one on a New York Times list of cities with the most new coronavirus cases in the past two weeks in relation to its population.

“The university is going to run the town. They brought 35,000 people back and our town doubled in a matter of a week and cases skyrocketed,” said Thompson.

The shutdowns forced McCormick into a handful of layoffs, including laying off his own wife. He said, “Honestly, it is hard to tell you with 100% certainty that us and other businesses will survive this next round.”

Twenty-five thousand fans at Jack Trice Stadium may be just 41% of its over 60,000-seat capacity, but it is nearly the entire population of Iowa’s 18th largest city Clinton, Iowa, with 25,093 residents. It is also more than Waukee’s population of around 24,000. Thompson said, “I just couldn’t believe it. It seems very irresponsible of the university and sets a terrible example for the community.”

Breweries like Torrent and Alluvial pride themselves on following city, county and state guidelines. They have even placed a pledge to obey them and keep customers safe on the door. Despite all of that, they say they were blindsided when they had no say in the governor’s second round of closures. “The closure last week, the football game and the news that we are number one in the nation, it just isn’t adding up to me,” said Thompson.

Masks will be required for fans at all times at Jack Trice Stadium and seating has been changed to comply with social distancing.


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