If you're thinking about going to a high school football game on Friday, it may be a good idea to cancel pre-kickoff dinner plans.
Thanks to a rule implemented by the Kenosha Unified School District this past spring after "a few" incidents at Friday night home football games in the city of Kenosha during the 2021 season, all games at Bradford, Tremper and Indian Trail this fall have kicked off at 5:30 p.m. instead of the normal 7 p.m.
KUSD Chief Communications Officer Tanya Ruder confirmed Thursday afternoon a few incidents occurred last school year at Kenosha home games, prompting the earlier start times.
Furthermore, an incident that took place this season at the Aug. 26 Zion, Ill. vs. Bradford football game at Mary D. Bradford Stadium resulted in extra security at games the rest of the season. That game started at 5:30 p.m.
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According to Ruder, KUSD has no knowledge of any weapons present during the incident.
Likewise, the Racine Unified School District has changed its ticket rules for football games after a teenage girl was shot non-fatally outside of Horlick Field following the Sept. 9 game between Horlick and Oak Creek high schools.
RUSD's new athletic event procedures, announced Tuesday night, are as follows:
Tickets are only sold online (bit.ly/3DtK9UU).
No more tickets will be sold after 2 p.m. on the day of the event.
Everyone attending any RUSD event is subject to scanning/metal detectors.
Entrance to events will not be allowed 30 minutes after the beginning of the event.
An adult must accompany all middle school and elementary school students.
Southeast Conference and RUSD passes are still allowed at the gate.
No ticket is needed for:
Those 60 years old and older.
Those with a military ID.
Those age 6 and younger.
Asked for comment on the changes, RUSD spokeswoman Stacy Tapp said the intent of the changes are "to enhance safety" and further explained in an email:
"Online ticket sales are new. We had been working earlier this year to get the Ticket Spicket agreement finalized and we are now ready to go. Many districts use Ticket Spicket because it's a simple way to handle digital ticket sales. Students, parents and fans can buy their tickets in advance, they don't have to bring cash with them and they can simply show the QR code to the event staff to scan on entry...
"We ask students, families and fans for their understanding as we adjust to new procedures. Let's work together to continue providing positive and safe spaces for our students to enjoy school activities here in Racine."
Horlick football games have had metal detectors since fall 2019.
The increased security measures began at last Friday's games.
The beefed-up security was evident at the Indian Trail-Tremper rivalry game at Jaskwhich Stadium Sept. 9, where multiple police officers guarded the main entrance, more security guards spread throughout the premises and a 6-foot wooden barricade adjacent to the ticket table/entrance to the bleachers didn't allow people to casually sneak in without paying.
"The ticket and parent/guardian accompaniment changes were implemented last week and we had no issues with these new processes that I am aware of," Ruder said. "I understand we had great attendance at both the Bradford v. Case and the ITHSA v. Tremper games last Friday night."
Bryan Mogensen, a coordinator of athletics for KUSD, confirmed Thursday the changes.
"Over the course of the past few years, Kenosha, as well as surrounding communities, have had an increase in incidents involving students on Friday night football games," Mogensen said. "We made the decision to go to a 5:30 start time for all games, aside from the homecoming games, months ago. We are doing this to help ensure the safest environment possible for our student-athletes, students, and their families."
"It is our hope that moving the start times up on these games will help produce a safer environment, while having a minimal impact on the overall student experience. We have absolutely beefed up our security presence, as well as made some attendance policy changes for KUSD:
Students must purchase a ticket online by 8:00 am the day of the game online. If they miss this deadline, they are able to attend the game but will have to attend with a parent and pay with cash at the gate.
Adult spectators can also purchase tickets online up to 8:00 am the of the game to avoid lines at the gates for cash sales.
Ticket sales will be halted at the end of halftime, and gates will be closed to any student that comes after that.
Additionally, the parking lots will be closed for entry as well at halftime. One entrance will be staffed by game management personnel.
Homecoming games will remain at 7 p.m. start times.
Mogensen said there has been cause for concern over recent years.
"This is why we met this past spring to discuss the challenges that we have faced on Friday nights and felt that there were some proactive measures that we could put in place to help us do the best we can to promote a safe and positive environment," Mogensen said.
No longer are students able to just show up at a game the night of the game and pay to get in at 5 o'clock or so at the gate. They must be accompanied by a parent or guardian if he or she didn't purchase tickets online by 8 a.m. Friday morning.
Tickets will still be sold through halftime.
However, as soon as the third quarter starts, students will not be allowed entry unless they pre-purchased tickets.
Once a spectator is in the stadium with his or her ticket, they may not leave and come back.
"I would like to reiterate that Friday night football games have long been a source of fun for our community as families come out to support our student-athletes," Ruder said. "The goal of these changes is to ensure we are providing a safe environment where our community can continue to support our teams at a fun, family-friendly event on Friday nights for many years to come."
Mogensen wants to assure the public that Friday night football games are still safe, fun places that invite families and fans to the city's beautiful high school football facilities.
He hopes everyone can cooperate moving forward with the rules changes to ensure the "Friday Night Lights" experience can still be as exciting and enjoyable as possible.
"In general, we are pleased with the changes that we have put in place," Mogensen said. "We have received several positive comments from school staff and from the community. The environment last week at our first cross-town game between Indian Trail and Tremper was electric, and the place was packed full of people who were there to support their schools. I strongly believe these policy changes will help ensure the people attending our games on Friday nights are there for the purpose of supporting our students and their schools, and will help keep the focus of the night where it belongs, on the field."
People can purchase tickets to Friday's Bradford and Tremper home games and others this season using Ticket Spicket by going to events.ticketspicket.com and searching "Kenosha Unified School District."
Spectators are not allowed to bring bags into sporting events.
This includes backpacks, duffle bags, coolers, and string bags. Fans requiring entry with a bag for medical or other reasons must receive clearance from game management staff and are subject to search.