The University is proud to be part of our local community and deeply values the partnership we share in making our region a wonderful place to live and work. We are truly grateful to the Michiana community for your invaluable support and patience as we brought students back to campus in this time of the pandemic.
Within the approximately $2.4 billion that the Notre Dame community contributes annually to the regional economy, $185 million is generated each year by football weekends alone. As local restaurants, hotels and other service providers and retailers can attest, approximately 660,000 visitors stream into the area every football season.
Regrettably, that won’t happen this season because of COVID-19. Working in cooperation with St. Joseph County Health Department officials, the University has devised a plan to safely accommodate a significantly reduced number of spectators should we be able to play football next month. To minimize the risk of transmission of the virus, Notre Dame will reduce its seating capacity by more than 80 percent. The limited seating will be occupied by our students, and to the extent there are remaining seats, our faculty and staff, with everyone required to wear masks and be appropriately distanced throughout the game. There will be very few spectators who are not part of the campus community—for example, the families of the players on both teams—and these visitors will be required to follow strict protocols. Also, tailgating will be prohibited on campus and at other Notre Dame property.
I want to thank county officials, especially Dr. Mark Fox of the St. Joseph County Health Department, for helping us achieve this partial use of Notre Dame Stadium in a way that safeguards our campus as well as the local community.
We strive to deliver the best education possible to our students, while being a good citizen in our community. We regret that our inability to welcome the customary visitors for football weekends and other events on campus involves hardship for many local businesses, but our shared commitment to the health and safety of every member of this community must come first.
I want to express my gratitude to all of the civic, business, academic and spiritual leaders who have wished Notre Dame well as we reopened and for all the cooperation and support of our regional partners. I look forward to the day when the pandemic is behind us, and we can celebrate emerging from it an even stronger and more vibrant community.
Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.