Low turnouts at popular bars during Notre Dame home opener
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- COVID-19 kept fans from the stands last year, and bar owners said at the time that they were worried how they were going to fare without that crowd. Now, after expecting a big turnout on Saturday, some are worried what this is going to mean for the rest of the season.
“We expected a little bit bigger crowd than what we had," said Jeff Morauski, a co-owner of Taphouse on the Edge. "But we were happy with the people who were here.”
Taphouse is a popular gameday spot for Notre Dame fans. Morauski expected the first home game to be "crazy," but he didn't get the crowd that he anticipated. They're not the only bar in town noticing the lack of crowds either.
Mitch's Corner and the Linebacker told me that they also dealt with smaller than normal groups coming in. Morauski believes there are a variety of factors at play:
“It’s Toledo-- not a big, powerhouse game. You know, COVID is still around, not going away. People are probably still a little bit scared of that. The game wasn’t televised either, so maybe people were at home, doing parties because they could get the game at home, too. Probably a combination of all three.”
Despite all this, Morauski is taking it all in stride, believing this is not a sign of things to come.
“Yeah, boy, we’re hoping not!" he said. "Purdue is a local Indiana school. Everybody has got passion- in this county- for either Purdue or Notre Dame, so I’d imagine this would be a fantastic weekend. Busier than last weekend.”
And Morauski believes things will get busier as the season continues.
He says: “I think it’s all about, you know, tailgating, being safe, coming out and still enjoying the experience. I think people haven’t gotten that experience in two years and I’d imagine as these games continue to happen, I’d imagine more people coming out to enjoy that experience.”
Morauski also assured patrons thinking of coming out to the bars for gameday, saying that his staff is taking precautions-- wearing masks and sanitizing regularly.