MORGANTOWN, WV (WV Illustrated) – For the first time since it opened in 1980, Mountaineer fans won’t be able to pack into Milan Puskar Stadium for West Virginia’s football season opener against Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 12.

Shane Lyons notified the team’s around 18,000 season ticket holders in a letter on Thursday, citing safety concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I write to you today with great anticipation for the start of the season at Milan Puskar Stadium on Sept. 12,” Lyons wrote. “I find myself with mixed emotions as I am excited to get the season started, but disappointed and sad that our players will not be able to play in front of a full stadium in one of the greatest atmospheres in college football.”

Lyons left the possibility open for fans later in the season for the team’s home conference opener against Baylor.

“Our primary collective University focus right now is on the start of classes and the safe return of our students to our WVU Campuses,” Lyons added. “I am hopeful that all of us will be aggressive in taking appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of this virus so that all parties can be comfortable allowing a percentage of fans to attend on Oct. 3 and beyond. Until then, I ask for your understanding of the decisions that are being made and trust that we are doing everything we can to welcome Mountaineer Nation back to one of the best atmospheres in college football.”

Kickoff times and broadcast information for WVU’s clash with Eastern Kentucky will be announced at a later date.