What Do Game Days in Clemson Look Like in 2020?

  • By cvbizz
  • September 16, 2020
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Clemson Football
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Brett Barest

On average, game days in Clemson are crowded affairs. Official attendance averages just over 80,000 per game and that does not even begin to consider those that descend upon the town with no ticket to their name. Lord knows I have spent my fair share of Saturdays in Clemson just to tailgate with friends in the shadow of the stadium, never to step through the gate. A walk over to the Esso Club , Sloan Street or Tiger Town Tavern during or after the game is commonplace, keeping the town bustling well past the final whistle.

Naturally, local businesses have to wonder what the “new normal” looks like under the adjusted policies enacted for the pandemic. Stadium capacity is limited to 19,000 and all tailgating tents and large groups in the parking lots will be strictly prohibited. How many of these folks wander over to a local watering hole before or after the game or, beyond that, is someone like that still coming to town without a ticket just to get a piece of the revelry? Additionally, with bars and restaurants already operating at a 50% capacity restriction, is there even enough room for Clemson football supporters at local businesses on game day?

New Measures in Place for 2020 Clemson Home Games

The short answer to this question, at this point anyway, is that we have no idea.

I have spoken to Clemson Chamber of Commerce President Susan Cohen a couple times ahead of the start of football season and on each occasion she emphasized that Clemson, its business owners, and its inhabitants have no idea what to expect until the day of the game. The first time we spoke, the big question was “Will we even have a football season?” and once the plan of action was announced, it became, “Ok, so how many people can we expect?”

I suspect this question applies to college towns across the United States, each with its own unique set of circumstances that could impact attendance.  If I was a gambling man, I would wager that the Clemson Tigers are still an attractive draw as the odds on favorites to win the ACC Championship and take a trip to the College Football Playoffs for the sixth time in as many years. People tend to enjoy being a part of history and could still gravitate to the home base of another championship season.

Of those that do show up and want to patronize local businesses, Cohen ensures me that they can expect to follow all the rules of pandemic life, from masks to seating capacities to 11pm cutoff times for bars and restaurants. Small businesses across the board have been through too much for too long to risk another shutdown so we can expect everybody to be on their safest and most responsible behavior.

This Saturday – even before the first kickoffs at noon across the country – should give us our first indication of what ACC football towns look like in the face of a pandemic. For our part, here in the Upstate at least, we have to wait until the season’s second week to see how Clemson looks specifically. It is then that Clemson sees their lone non-conference opponent of the season, the ever spunky but likely overmatched Citadel Bulldogs, take the field against the Tigers. Then, and only then, can local businesses, the city of Clemson, and even the Upstate as a whole can begin to plan and adapt to the 2020 football season moving forward.

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