Niles-Dowagiac football game online for free
NILES — When Niles and Dowagiac athletic directors Jeff Upton and Brent Nate finalized the Black & Blue Rivalry renewal last year, neither could have foreseen a global pandemic that would change how sports are played and watched.
Despite the challenges of competing in the era of COVID-19, Niles is doing everything it can to help create a game-like atmosphere for those fans who will be allowed to attend the first meeting between the Vikings and the Chieftains since 2005. Niles has also taken steps to make it possible for fans who are not allowed into the game to view it for free on the NFHS Network Friday night.
“We are excited that, for the first time since 2005, Niles will play Dowagiac in football,” Upton said. “As we renew this rivalry, we had hoped this event would be available to everyone in our communities. However, due to COVID, with the current guidance from our state, and health department, this is not possible. Only spectators who are issued tickets by a participant of the game will be allowed. We know to the many fans who can’t attend, this is disappointing.”
Under new health guidance requirements, Niles must now have the name and phone number of each fan attending the game in order to do contact tracing. Fans will need to fill out the back of their tickets with their name and phone number to be admitted.
Niles joined the NFHS last year and can broadcast both football games and contests in its gymnasium. Through donations, the district is providing the football game free to all fans.
“Thanks to the generosity of Clarks Service and Allied Insurance, this game will be provided at no charge to our communities,” Upton said. “You will need to sign up for an account at nfhsnetwork.com/users/sign_up. Niles radio broadcast can also be accessed by RCSportscasting.com, with James Bowker on the microphone. The game will also be broadcast on the Dowagiac Chieftain Network online.”
This year’s game is a non-conference contest, but beginning in 2021, the Chieftains and Vikings will be members of the same league.
“As Niles will be a member of the Wolverine Conference next year, we are also proud to announce that for the next four years, Niles and Dowagiac will be the final regular-season game each year,” Upton said.
Friday night parking
Dowagiac fans who have pre-admission tickets are encouraged to park in the Ring Lardner/Apple Festival parking lots and grounds on Friday night. The gate on 17th Street will be open beginning at 6 p.m.
Fans will need to pay $5 to enter the stadium.
Niles has placed an “X”s on the bleachers, which confirm social distancing by all spectators. Fans are asked to sit with a member of their own household on a designated “X”.
All spectators are required to wear a face mask over the nose and mouth at all times upon entry to the stadium and during the game.
Dowagiac fans may also enter by the main gate, using the Niles parking lot, but the congestion will be much less using the 17th street entrance, according to Upton.