Eastern Michigan students returned to campus this week, and many are preparing for a somewhat traditional football weekend, at least more traditional than the community has seen since 2019, because fans will be in the stands.
Rynearson Stadium, 799 N. Hewitt Road, will open to fans for the home opener football game Friday, Sept. 3, when the Eagles meet St. Francis University’s Red Flash. Kickoff at 7 p.m.
To celebrate the return of fans, the university Department of Athletics partnered with DTE Energy to organize a family-oriented community party before kickoff, calling it CommUniversitE Night.
The event will include a petting zoo, carnival games, music, food vendors, community businesses, and other activities suitable for all ages.
CommUniveritE Night was designed to be “a family-centric event that will showcase and celebrate the people who make our university and community a special place to live, work, and learn,” university officials said in a written announcement on the event posted on EMUEagles.com.
Information on tickets for the event and the game can be found on that website page as well. Some of the proceeds from the event will be donated to area schools.
COVID-19 protocols will be in place, university officials said, based on current guidelines from the Washtenaw County Health Department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. University officials announced the plans on the Eastern Michigan website’s sports pages Aug. 24.
No one will be doing health screenings at the gates, but the university encouraged anyone who feels ill on game day to stay home.
For those fans headed to Rynearson Stadium, masks will be required when inside restrooms or at the Convocation Center regardless of vaccination status.
Masks are strongly recommended for fans in the seating bowl and general outdoor areas at Rynearson Stadium, include entry gates and the concourse.
Fans also are encouraged to maintain social distancing.
On the suite level at Rynearson, space and seating will be limited Friday night, and throughout the year, to allow for required social distancing. Additionally, all suite guests must complete a daily health screening to obtain a university COVID PASS. Suite guests will be required to always wear a mask with the exception of eating and drinking.
“We ask that you and your guests remain in your seats with minimal movement as we are being mindful of traffic flow and trying to limit congestion,” university officials said in the written announcement on the protocols.
In announcing plans for the game and the community celebration, the university encouraged all of those attending to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Eagles were able to play six games in 2020, but no fans were allowed to attend those games due to the pandemic.
This year’s season, the Eagles’ 130th, includes games against Wisconsin Sept. 11, Massachusetts Sept. 18, Texas State Sept. 25, Northern Illinois Oct. 2, Miami Oct. 9, Ball State Oct. 16, and Bowling Green Oct. 23.
Games also are schedule for Nov. 2 against Toledo, Nov. 9 against Ohio, Nov. 16 against Western Michigan, and Nov. 26 against Central Michigan.