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Kalamazoo businesses eager for the return of MAC football

Posted at 7:46 AM, Sep 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-27 07:46:39-04

It’s almost time to ride for the Western Michigan University Broncos.

Waldo Stadium is empty and fated off right now, but on November 3rd, football will be back.

The Mid-American Conference voted unanimously Friday to resume play after suspending all fall sports in August due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In its announcement, the MAC said teams will be tested four times a week beginning Oct. 5, although the complete set of protocols will be released next week.

It’s welcomed news for nearby businesses, like The Old Goat Tavern, who rely on the game-day revenue.

“We’re really excited for them to play and to watch them play,” said Brooke DeVries, general manager.

According to the restaurant, they can make up to $20,000 during a home game.

“Without any in house entertainment, we’re very much a sports venue,” said DeVries. “We have lots of TVs, we’re pretty much the best set up for that in terms of if you’re trying to watch a game somewhere on campus.”

While the six-game, conference-only schedule may not bring in the same amount or same crowds, businesses say anything helps.

“Our home games, they’re our busiest days of the year,” said Grant Gulley, general manager at Waldo’s Campus Tavern. “We depend pretty heavily on that income and to know right off the bat you’re loosing that, that makes a tough situation that much worse. [So,] to get the MAC back, that’s home, that’s home for us, we get to watch Western play, and that’s going to be huge.”

Waldo’s says it’s going to try and mimic the stadium experience for the die-hard fans not allowed inside, but do so safely by increasing cleaning, spreading out tables, and operating below the allowed 50 percent capacity.

“Take your precautions, wear your face masks, keep your social distancing, but still try to enjoy,” said Gulley. “You can come out and see the campus, watch the game, and have a good time.”

Football is the only fall sport in the MAC to return. Sports like soccer and volleyball are tentatively scheduled to return in the spring.