CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Southern Illinois University Athletics announced the game attendance will be reduced to team families only because of a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the region.
SIU announced the change on Thursday, October 22.
Previously, the department planned to seat up to 20 percent of the capacity of Saluki Stadium.
Director of Athletics Liz Jarnigan said her staff had just finished the seat relocation process for season-ticket holders and was planning to mail tickets this week. Those tickets, plus the more than 500 student-ticket requests that were made online, are now canceled.
“We’ve worked so hard to prepare to host fans for this game, and I admit it’s incredibly disappointing for us to share this news with our loyal season-ticket holders and students,” Jarnigan said. “However, we will always put the health and safety of our community first.”
Originally scheduled for October 23, the War for the Wheel Game was rescheduled to Friday, October 30.
KFVS12 will broadcast the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks versus the Southern Illinois Salukis football game free of charge on the KFVS12 primary channel.
The annual “War for the Wheel” game is scheduled to be played at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale at 6 p.m.
History of “War for the Wheel”
“We are very excited to be able to provide this game on KFVS12,” said KFVS12 Vice President and General Manager Chris Conroy. “Thanks to SIU, SEMO, and all who worked behind the scenes to make this happen.”
“On behalf of Saluki Sports Properties and LearfieldIMG College, we are thrilled to be partnering with KFVS12 to bring the War for the Wheel to the many homes of our Saluki fans, students and alumni,” added Josh Olerud, general manager for Salukis Sports Properties
This year marks the 88th meeting between SEMO and SIU in a series that dates back to 1909 when the teams crossed the Mississippi River by boat to play.
The game is now known as the “War for the Wheel” in reference to the ship’s wheel trophy which goes to the winner.
The wheel currently resides in Cape Girardeau after the Redhawks beat the Salukis each of the last two seasons. SEMO leads the all-time series by a count of 42-37-8.
“I’m happy that the game will be available for our fans to watch given the limited attendance,” said Brady Barke, director of Athletics for SEMO. “This is a great rivalry and we are excited our student-athletes get a chance to compete this fall.”
“In these strange times, this will be more than just a game,” continued Conroy. “This will bring football fans across the Heartland together to experience a region-wide event.”
The No. 25 Redhawks and No. 24 Salukis are both ranked in the STATS FCS Preseason Poll. The game will count toward the 2020-21 season record and be used by the selection committee when determining the proposed 16-team playoff field.
The announcing team will be Conner Onion and former Saluki defensive stand-out Conner James, with sideline reports from Adam King of KFVS12′s Heartland Sports.
The game is a production of Saluki Athletics and Southern Illinois University.