BLACKSBURG, Va – On Saturday night, the Virginia Tech Hokies will take the field for their first game of the season at Lane Stadium. Health restrictions in place make this year’s home opener one like no other.
Any other year, Hokie fans would tell you can’t have football without tailgating, Enter Sandman and a stadium full of cheering students.
But this is a football season Lane Stadium will stay mostly quiet.
“College football and game day and tailgating is such a deep valued tradition here at Virginia Tech we always look forward to the fall to be able to do that we’ve been doing it for decades, but this is an unusual year,” Virginia Tech Spokesperson Mark Owczarski said.
Because of COVID-19, there will be several health precautions and restrictions when the Hokies take the field against NC State.
Only a limited amount of fans will actually be allowed in the stadium.
If you were thinking about tailgating, you may want to think again. Anyone who gathers in the parking lot outside the stadium will be asked to leave.
“We will enforce all that of course but we really don’t expect that to be an issue because so many of our fans care about our community, care about our heath, care about each other,” Owczarski said.
Due to the limited fan attendance, bars in Blacksburg are preparing for a much-needed boost in business this weekend.
“It’s great to have football back. Everyone looks forward to it, of course,” Sharkey’s Manager Jerry Flad said.
But for fans hoping to catch the game on the big screen at Sharkey’s, things are going to look at lot different. Only about 50 people will be let inside on a first come first serve basis.
“There’s no service at the bar, which I think will be a big difference because I think people are used to that,” Flad said.
Virginia Tech leaders agree that they are looking forward to the day when things can return to normal, but safety is the top priority for now.
“We do look forward to the day where 72,000 fans will be in Lane Stadium yelling and screaming, Enter Sandman, the whole nine yards. That day will come again,” Owczarski said.
Kickoff for the game is set for 8 p.m. The game will be aired on the ACC Network.