MISSOULA — Saturday morning at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, fans lined up to get inside.
It’s the start of the spring football season for the Montana Grizzlies, and a sense of excitement filled the air.
“We finally get to see the Griz play, and know that this COVID is hopefully on its way out, and that good things are to come and football is back,” Paula Pease, wife of Griz Coach Brent Pease, said in an interview.
Saturday's game was the first in 16 months since the pandemic's onset.
Health restrictions were in place at the game, which included a mask requirement. Tailgating was not approved for the event, even though it is a tradition for Griz football fans.
"You're not allowed to tailgate. You go right into the game, so I guess right now we're just kind of happy to be back together, happy to be able to watch the game in general just to be there and, and know the kids are ready to play, and so I think traditions will come, the more that things open," Pease explained.
College students, part of the usual crowd, were visibly amped to get back into the stadium.
“I feel really excited just because we didn't get to watch them last year,” freshman Payton Crossguns told MTN News.
“I really love to watch football and then I also play sports, so it's really great to come back and just yell and be excited again,” Crossguns said.
For those that didn’t score a seat in Washington-Grizzly Stadium, the nearby Press Box served as a possible next choice for viewing the game.
Press Box General Manager Matt Warner said mostly locals turned up to watch.
“There isn't a big out of town presence yet, which we expected," Warner said.
Normally the Press Box is extremely crowded on game days. This time, tables were still full of fans watching the game on TV.
“We weren't elbow to elbow like we normally are. But, I mean it was nice to be busy again,” Warner said.
Warner says he looks forward to Griz Football starting up again.
“Business wise, that's most of our year. The community wants it. We want it," Warner said.