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SHI Stadium returns to full capacity for 2021 football season

For the first time in 22 months, SHI Stadium will host fans at full capacity when the Rutgers football team opens up its season against Temple on Sept. 2. – Photo by Zeete / Wikimedia

This morning, the Rutgers football program announced SHI Stadium will have full capacity for the upcoming 2021 football season. This will be the first time since November 2019 that the Scarlet Knights are allowed to have a large number of fans in the stadium.

Up until this announcement, University President Jonathan Holloway took a conservative approach toward attendance numbers in Piscataway, limiting the spring football game to 5,000 fans and canceling all in-person graduation events in favor of virtual ceremonies.

Many coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions have been lifted by Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), with large venues like MetLife Stadium announcing a return to full capacity for Giants and Jets games this upcoming NFL season. 

The Rutgers football team's opening week home game, a Thursday night matchup against Temple on Sept. 2, will be the first chance for many fans to see head football coach Greg Schiano in his second stint leading the program. Schiano coached the Knights to a 3-6 record in the 2020 season, tying a program record for wins in the Big Ten. This will be the head coach’s first home game in front of fans in Piscataway since 2011, his last year in his first run on the Banks. 

In addition to fans returning to the stands, many of the other Rutgers football traditions will be returning this year. Before the games, fans will be allowed to tailgate in the parking lots outside of the stadium once again. The Scarlet Walk and the Marching Scarlet Knights, the Rutgers band, also make their return after being sidelined in 2020 to adhere to social distancing requirements. 

The Knights will host six home games this upcoming season. After the opener against the Owls, Rutgers hosts Delaware on Sept. 18. The Knights then open October with back-to-back Big Ten matchups against Ohio State and Michigan State. Wisconsin comes to SHI Stadium on Nov. 6, and Rutgers closes out their regular season with Senior Day against Maryland on Nov. 27. 

“I'm also excited and very very encouraged by what I'm hearing about next fall, and can't wait to unleash our crowd on the Big Ten,” Schiano said. “I think it's going to be a huge part of our home-field advantage, and I guess that I'm encouraged by what I'm hearing about as far as capacity and what we're going to be able to have in there. So keep our fingers crossed and hopefully things keep getting better with this virus and get that Rutgers SHI Stadium home-field advantage that I remember.”

For more updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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