Fall Saturdays in The Bend are going to feel a little different this year.
Coronavirus-related restrictions mean the Notre Dame football game day experiences is unlike anything in memory. The longstanding traditions associated with a home game weekend are on hold for now. In their place, guidelines and policies meant to keep campus and the community safe. Here’s what you need to know.
Attending the Game
Tickets are being made available first to the Notre Dame student body. After student demand is met, faculty and staff can purchase tickets. Total attendance is being capped at no more than 20 percent of stadium capacity, which equates to right around 16,000 fans.
- Masks must be worn on campus at all times other than while eating and drinking. They are a requirement for entering the stadium.
- All attendees are required to practice physical distancing for the duration of the game.
MORE INFO: Notre Dame’s 2020 Football Season Guidelines
Tailgating and Game Day Weekend Activities
Many of the traditions associated with a home game weekend aren’t happening this season.
- Tailgating, gathering and open containers are not permitted anywhere on campus.
- There will be no game day weekend activities. This includes the pep rally, Friday tunnel tours and pre-game Player Walk.
- Cheerleaders and the band will perform from the Notre Dame Stadium stands. No other performances will happen during the weekend.
- Campus buildings, including the Joyce Center, will not be open on game day.
- Exceptions include the Hammes Bookstore and Morris Inn.
- Concessions typically located outside the stadium will be closed.
- The Murnane Family Ticket Office windows will be closed on game day.
What Can You Do?
Limited fans and planned activities around this season’s Notre Dame home games means the community won’t be quite as vibrant this fall. But there are still ways to support the Fighting Irish and local businesses at the same time.
NOTE: This list will be updated throughout the season.
Football Fridays in Downtown South Bend
Football Fridays in Downtown South Bend are back! Notre Dame fans are encouraged to head downtown from 5-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18 to celebrate another home football weekend in The Bend with family friendly activities. You can grab carryout from a downtown restaurant and dine on the Gridiron, where there will be socially distant seating and a free concert from Ultrafab from 6-8:30 p.m. Drinks will be available for purchase, provided by the Courtyard by Marriott. The 100 block of South Michigan Street will also be closed for more outdoor seating and room to walk.
Aloft South Bend Watch Party
Head to downtown South Bend as Aloft South Bend puts on a watch party at 2 p.m. Sept. 19 for the South Florida game. There will be food and drink specials, plus televisions both inside and out on the patio.
Take-and-Bake Barnaby’s Pizza
No need to time your pizza order just right when you can heat one up at home. Barnaby’s South Bend is offering take-and-bake pizzas. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees, cook until golden brown, enjoy pizza from one of The Bend’s most popular spots at your convenience.
Taphouse Tailgate Party
Taphouse on the Edge is hosting a tailgate party Sept. 19 for the South Florida game. Kegs and eggs go from 8-11 a.m.with $2 scrambled eggs and hash browns, domestic draft/mimosa and bloody Mary specials. A beer garden will take shape in the parking lot. Reservations are recommended for proper social distancing.
UPDATE: Anything below this note reflects game weekend activities during previous seasons. None of these events are happening in 2020. Please refer to the above sections for 2020 events and guidelines.
Football Friday Stadium Tunnel Tours
Ever wondered what it’d be like to run out of the North Tunnel and onto the fabled field inside Notre Dame Stadium?
Fans can do just that (or walk, if you prefer) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on football Fridays. It’s the same tunnel the team has used since 1931 to make its entrance to the field before kickoff. Just consider the legends that have made that trek.
After you do the same, it’s a great photo opportunity. Tours begin at the Knute Rockne Gate, across from Touchdown Jesus. And better yet, they’re FREE.
Trumpets Under the Dome
This is a tradition you don’t want to skip.
The Marching Band’s trumpet section gathers inside the famed Golden Dome just after 4 p.m. on Fridays to play “Notre Dame Our Mother” and the “Notre Dame Victory March.” It’s a scene you won’t soon forget
Friday Pep Rally
If you’re not already pumped up for kickoff, you will be after leaving the pep rally. Join fellow fans to cheer on the Fighting Irish as they gather the night before kickoff. Pep rally locations change from week to week, so check out the schedule below.
No trip to campus is complete without a stop by The Grotto.
As night sets in around The Bend, visit the Grotto to say a prayer and light a candle. It’ll be illuminated even more than usual with the volume of visitors in town for the game. Heat and an aura radiating from the Grotto can warm even the coldest nights.
Midnight Drummers Circle
By the time Friday night rolls around, it might be time to start thinking about resting up for game day. But wait. There’s at least one reason to stay up late.
Every Friday during a home football weekend, just before midnight, the Notre Dame Drumline convenes in front of the Main Building. After the bells of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart chime for midnight, members of the drumline circle up with their instruments in hand.
Campus quiet is then broken 45 minutes as they play cadences, the fight song and other fan favorites. It’s the official beginning of game day. Next stop, tailgating Saturday morning.
Kickoff looms come Saturday. Yet there is so much else to do.
Parking lots open for tailgating at 7 a.m., even for night games. Eventually the smell of grilling burgers and the sound of cornhole games will float all around outside Notre Dame Stadium. Here’s what you need to know about tailgating at Notre Dame. Nothing says the lead up to a college football game like tailgating. Do everything you can to soak in the game day environment.
Head coach Brian Kelly and the team arrive at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex on Saturday morning for final preparations. They later walk from the Gug to the Hesburgh Library, then turn south toward Notre Dame Stadium and enter through the Tunnel gates. Fans line the walk to catch a glimpse of their favorite players and fire up the team one last time before kickoff.
Marching Band Step Off
Anticipation for the game builds Saturday as the famed Notre Dame Marching band gathers in front of the Main Building (with the Golden Dome fixed atop). The band starts playing then marches toward the north tunnel of Notre Dame Stadium. It’s the soundtrack that leads you into kickoff.