LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Saturday, ESPN College Gameday will descend on the University of Louisville’s campus.
The three-hour college football will air live from Cardinal Stadium but will look and feel different. The show will have no spectators, but fans can sign up to join the show each week virtually. There will also be no set access for outside media, which means there will be none of the sights and sounds people have become used to when Gameday comes to town.
“You just miss that excitement buzzing around campus," UofL Associate Sports and Information Director Rocco Gasparro said.
The atmosphere is different all around campus, including at Derby City Pizza Company. Usually, Saturdays in the fall transform the pizzeria’s patio into a party.
“A lot of action going around here," employee Stephanie Lyles said. "It’s a packed house. We’re busy. We’ve got all the fans in here.”
Instead, Lyles and the staff are doing what they can to make ends meet. Like other restaurants, Derby City Pizza Co. has struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic, but Lyles is hoping with the return of college football, things will return back to normal.
“It’s coming back," she said. "All the customers are starting to come back now, and we’re really happy to see them. We’ve missed all of them. And we’re just really looking forward to everything going back to normal.”
Prior to Week 1, UofL implemented several changes to Cardinal Stadium to comply with the Atlantic Coast Conference’s COVID-19 protocols. Gasparro told WAVE 3 News there will be no changes to the guidelines from Week 1 to Week 2.
“Yeah, it’s not easy being distanced at a football game, and not being able to tailgate and having your mask on, but if you want to watch college football these are the rules you have to abide by," Gasparro said. "And I think our fans did a really good job of doing that.”
The university will continue to keep the crowd to 20% capacity in the bowl and suites, with about 12,000 fans expected at Cardinal Stadium.
“Come enjoy it, be a part of the atmosphere and hopefully we can pull out a win,” Gasparro said.
ESPN College Gameday airs from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on Saturday. The Cardinals kickoff against the University of Miami Hurricanes at 7:30 p.m. This will be College Gameday’s third visit to Louisville and comes nearly four years to the day of the show’s first visit to Louisville on Sept. 17, 2016.