Eugene abuzz in anticipation of Ducks opener this weekend

Organizers and fans are getting ready for the big game, the first in two years to be fully in-person.

Posted: Sep 3, 2021 12:47 PM
Updated: Sep 3, 2021 6:55 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The University of Oregon Ducks are making a huge comeback this Saturday with their first fully in-person game in nearly two years.

There's activity buzzing in and around Autzen Stadium as everyone prepares for the big day. But there are some things to keep in mind before heading out tomorrow morning. 

University officials said fans should arrive to Autzen early. Gates open at 9 a.m., and they said wait times are expected to be much longer closer to kick off while officials check tickets and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. 

How will this work? Officials said they will have two tables to check for vaccination status or a negative test, and then fans will move on to the next table to get their tickets checked. Tickets will be accepted in mobile form only. 

Masks are also required for anyone 5 and older, inside and outside. 

And even with these new rules in place for the forseeable future, many fans are willing to cooperate. Armando Navarro and his wife have been going to Ducks games for almost 25 years, and he said they're ready to go back. 

"We're ready to go in, along with our vaccine certification. So, we're ready. Hopefully they are," said Navarro.

MORE: TAILGATERS EXCITED FOR DUCKS OPENER EVEN WITH COVID-19 RULES IN PLACE

Fans are itching to get back into the stadium. Jim and Pat Bergen have been Ducks fans for years. They say they can't wait to be back with thousands of others. 

"Just the camaraderie of everybody and the cheering and the songs that they play and the familiar things and the Duck, and just seeing the team run on the field. The whole experience is just great," said the Bergens. 

RELATED: LOCAL BUSINESSES LOOK FOR BOOST WITH THE RETURN OF FANS TO AUTZEN STADIUM

Scott Essig, president of Essig Entertainment, said he and his team are thrilled to welcome people to their venue after two years.

“We’re remembering the process because it’s been two years since we’ve been here. Things are very different, obviously, with the current circumstances,” said Essig.

He said the company will be following all safety protocols set in place by the state of Oregon. Essig also said that with supply shortages and with this year being significantly different than most, there are a lot of things fans should keep in mind when tailgating this weekend. 

"What we're telling people is to be very patient with service personnel. We're excited to be back out in the public, but please be very patient," said Essig.

And other local businesses are also thrilled for more business. Harrison Stevens, co-founder of the Nest, said he is expecting a lot of people to show up at his doors. 

"We're expecting a lot of people to be here. I know students aren't back on campus just yet, but with all of the fans and the overwhelming excitement for this coming season, I know it's going to be a hit," said Stevens. 

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