For about seven fall Saturdays each of the past 12 years, Peter Moran has enjoyed one constant: tailgating for Gophers football games.
The tradition started with a group of seven friends buying season tickets and has grown from the Metrodome days to TCF Bank Stadium, expanding along with the families. For the usual Thursday season opener, the friends would take the day off work to golf before the game that night. On Saturdays, their group would be among the first in line when Lot 37 behind Ridder Arena opened at 7 a.m., pulling into the same spot on the far east side.
Throughout the years, this became more than just a pregame gathering for snacks and cornhole. Lot 37 became a community — a community temporarily disbanded during the coronavirus pandemic.
“You take away that aspect of it … of community and getting together with friends and other fans and just celebrating the good times and wallowing in misery with each other through the bad times,” Moran said. “ … It’s just not going to be the same.”
Moran is one of many Gophers fans left with a void where following their favorite college football team used to be. While the Big Ten helped that a bit by reinstating the canceled season to start Oct. 24, the conference still won’t allow fans to attend games or tailgate because of COVID-19 concerns.
For Moran, 43, of Greenfield, it’s not the food or the beverages or even the fact that as a father of two boys, those home Gophers games are some of his few social events of the