Clemson welcomes first home game despite COVID-19 changes

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CLEMSON, S.C. (WSPA)- Tailgating is a tradition college football wouldn’t be the same without.

This year, however, the coronavirus pandemic has shifted the way that college football fans celebrate game day.

The city of Clemson told fans only IPTAY donors with a parking pass could tailgate and for a limited amount of time before kickoff.

Alan and Mary Beth Lyles have been giving money to Clemson since 1981 and host tailgates every game.

“Sometimes for a big game we would have maybe at a peak time 40 to 50 people,” Alan Lyles said.

They say even though this year is different they’d rather be in Clemson socially distanced than watching from home.

Mary Beth Lyles said, “We’re extremely happy to be here, and I know you’re hearing that from everybody, but it’s truly amazing because a couple months ago we didn’t think we’d be here.”

For a fan, watching the game inside the stadium is now hard to come by.

Clemson’s Memorial Stadium holds over 81,000 people, but this year 19,000 fans are allowed inside, only 2,300 of those being students.

Clemson student Colby Teal says he didn’t get any tickets this year and says he’s not sure his Clemson experience will be the same.

“I wish they would’ve put students first,” Teal said. “I get like the IPTAY people because they donate all the money to the football team but students, we’re paying a lot of tuition to come here and we expect a football experience too so I wish we could come.”

However, Clemson alumi Aysia Cooper came back to Tiger Town to get a taste of game day, post-graduation

Cooper says just being around other Clemson fans is enough for her.

“Obviously we didn’t know if there was going to be a season, we’re not sure how long the season is even going to last,” Cooper said. “But just to be here, to be back in Clemson with all of the fans and all of the energy, it’s just exciting to see things are getting a little bit back to normal.”

Another difference Clemson fans are seeing this year is paperless tickets.

Those going to the game will be required to use their phone to get into the stadium

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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