May 12, 2009
When you head out to a sporting event on grounds at the University of Virginia cheering on your team is top priority. If severe weather should strike, the athletics department has a plan in place even before the game begins.
"We subscribe to a weather service that watches our weather for us," explained Jason Bauman, associates athletics director at UVa. "We want them to watch for lightning or heavy rain or high wind."
When a weather system is approaching, all athletic departments on grounds have a procedure to follow to make sure fans have enough time to return to their vehicles or to seek shelter.
This happened recently during a baseball game at Davenport Field.
"We had a small cell that was approaching our stadium," said Bauman. "It kind of hit the northwest part of Charlottesville. We gave the information to the umpires and said it's time to stop the game."
Even though tornado warnings don't happen often in Charlottesville, a warning system is still in place.
"Part of our communication plan is we know some of the safe shelters that are in the vicinity of each facility that we can send folks", added Bauman.
The athletics department worries more about heavy rain because heavy rain may make for unsafe conditions for the athletes.
"Before the event has started, we hold things," said Bauman. "We may not open the gates in the likelihood that it will be suspended anyway, we just may hold things; hold the teams in the locker rooms until it passes."
During, the summertime heat, fans and participants need to make sure they are hydrated during games.
"We've added things to our menus at Scott Stadium like Gatorade that we have available to give people an option," stated Bauman. "We put things in place like misting stations in some areas that fans can use to keep themselves cool."
Bauman says to enjoy sporting events and always know people behind the scenes are watching the skies as closely as possible.
"We have policies put into place to maintain safety for the fans, officials, and the participants," added Bauman.