MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The University of Memphis is preparing to welcome an increased number of fans inside the Liberty Bowl this weekend for the 2nd Tigers football home game against the University of Central Florida.
This is the first home game since the Shelby County Health Department loosened restrictions on local sporting events.
It was a sparse crowd inside the Liberty Bowl that got to see the Memphis Tigers beat Arkansas State on Sept. 5th.
Saturday, for the Tigers' nationally televised showdown with the UCF Knights, the crowd will more than double from 4,500 to 10,500.
“10,500 (fans) is not 50,000 but it is going to feel better. It’s going to be a better distribution within the stadium,” U of M Athletic Director Laird Veatch said.
Last week, the Shelby County Health Department issued a directive lowering the social distance requirement at local sporting events from 12 feet down to 6 feet.
Veatch says it’s important that each fan with a ticket shows up to support the team.
“Really important we have people show up and use those tickets,” Veatch said. “There’s a limited number, 10,500, so we need every one of them in there and yelling loud.”
“I’m going to be there,” UofM booster Bob Byrd said. “I’m going to exercise caution and be responsible by being masked.”
Bank of Bartlett CEO and University of Memphis super fan and booster, Bob Byrd says he’s excited to go to the game.
He hopes all Tigers fans commit to strictly following the health protocols of wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart the entire game.
“I think that’s going to be safe,” Byrd said. “I think if people exercise caution and are responsible, I think that will be safe.”
While Tigers fans are hoping for a big conference victory against UCF, there is more than one goal this Saturday inside the Liberty Bowl.
“One, everybody go to the game, support the Tigers and stay healthy,” Byrd said. “The other is for the Tigers to feel that support and come home with a win.”
“Of course we just need people to be safe, wear their masks and stay socially distant but also come and enjoy the game,” Veatch said.
The Shelby County Health Department is still not allowing tailgating on Tiger Lane at this time.
The Tigers kick off against UCF Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.