MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The first college football game to kick off during the COVID-19 era took place at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery Saturday night between Austin Peay and Central Arkansas.
The nationally televised game drew curiosity from football fans who wondered what a college game would look like in the middle of a pandemic.
The short answer: It was a college football game unlike any other.
There was no college bands, no tailgating, no large gatherings in the stands, and masks were required.
Kay McCreery, director of the parks and recreation department in Montgomery, said a max of 3,500 guests were allowed inside of the stadium, just 20 percent capacity.
“The tickets were sold in groups were you could buy four tickets together then there’s four seats vacant on either side of you and two rows vacant up behind you and below you so you’ll see little pockets of people all the way across the stands,” McCreery said. “There should be no large groups at all.”
“You have to have your mask on throughout the game if you’re moving around,” said Johhny Williams, executive director of the FCS kickoff game. “If you’re sitting in your seat they can take their mask off.”
Saturday night the majority of the people in the stands were the players families because of limited ticket sales. Families in attendance said despite the new restrictions they were just glad they got to see their children play ball.
“I’m sad that there is not gonna be bands and cheerleaders and that we have to wear the masks but you know what, I am just glad we are here,” said Central Arkansas mom Kim Perkinson. “It’s been a long long time cramped up in a house and we’re just ready to get out and watch some real football.”
“I appreciate the changes cause at least they’re letting them play,” said Central Arkansas dad Carl Lampton. “We’re able to withstand the inconvenience so we are able to watch our son play.”
Some spectators said they missed the tailgating and interaction between fans.
“I hope it doesn’t affect the boys that’s all that matters,” said Austin Peay fan Simone Anthony. “Hopefully they still feel the same energy cause we’re still here we still get to be here.”
Fans were grateful that the game came to fruition after so many other conferences across the country chose not to play this year.
“I think this football game is really good for America,” said one Central Arkansas dad. “I know there is a lot of people all across the country who are really hungry to watch a football game and this is the first college football game on ESPN tonight and we’re just proud to be a part of it.”