SALT LAKE CITY — Thursday nights football game between Weber State University and University of Utah brought the largest crowd ever to Rice Eccles Stadium.
“It feels good to be normal again,” said Drew Fleming.
Surrounding the stadium, tens of thousands of fans reconnect at tailgate parties.
“I think everybody is way excited to be back this year. We can’t wait for football to start back up,” said Talyse Francis Coni.
Players’ parents are the most excited for kick off.
“I am so excited. I am so excited! This opportunity to play football and to be a starter, this is huge,” said Veronica Hernandez who flew from California to watch her son, Brandon McKinney, start for the Utes.
“Hell yeah. First game of the season,” said WSU’s Dallin Jamison’s mother Brady Jamison.
Last season, the university shut down tailgating to slow the spread of COVID-19. This year, fans are encouraged to wear masks inside the stadium.
“We have our masks and we will wear when we get in there but we are super excited,” said Brandy Jamison.
Outside, thousands of fans appear unconcerned about the rising COVID-19 rates caused by the delta variant.
“No. We are not worried,” said Fleming.
Healthcare workers expressed concern holding the game at full capacity during this stage in the pandemic where the healthcare system is overwhelmed.