Tiger football season kicks off with a different look in the COVID-19 era

MEMPHIS,Tenn. — Today marked the first college football Saturday across the country.

The Memphis Tigers played host to Arkansas State and of course things are a little different this year.

Fan attendance at the Liberty Bowl is limited to just season ticket holders.

“I’m not sure how loud we can yell with masks on,” said Ron Budynas.

It was the first Tigers football game in this new socially distanced era. For season ticket holders Ron and Donna Budynas, this didn’t take away their excitement for the return of college football.

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“My parents were fans 25 years ago. They passed that down, the Tiger love to us,” he said.

The usual game-day pageantry was certainly missing. Tailgating isn’t allowed, resulting in a much quiet pre-game atmosphere.

Once inside the Liberty Bowl, fans in Memphis blue were scattered all around, separated by 12 feet. All faces covered with masks of course.

“It’s going to be way different,” he said. It’s going to kind of feel like you’ve got the whole stadium to yourself. It’ll be fun to watch them but it won’t be as much fun when there’s a lot of band, a lot of yelling, a lot of screaming, a lot of people.”

“They play football man,” said Cullens. That’s what they’re here to do. That’s what they’re excited to do. They know their family here. That’s all they worried about.”

For fans like Ron and Donna Budynas, they’re just hoping to see a season free of COVID-19 interruption.

“It’s really exciting to have an opportunity to play,” he told FOX13. “We just didn’t know till the last minute whether or not it would really happen so we’re just hoping things will go well and we’ll continue to get to play and maybe get to a big game at the end of the season.”

“I just hope we can all do it safely and nobody get sick,” said Budynas. “Just like everybody else it seems like the athletes are being really carefully and obviously our health department is.”

Some guidelines Memphis has put in place include cashless transactions at concession stands.

Plexiglass has been installed at the concessions as well.

Fans must wear face masks even when in the parking lot and smoking areas are closed.