By Adam Baker/Editor
Although it’s unlikely the crowd at Saturday’s football game against rival Western Kentucky University will beat the record 25,300 fans set in 1979, officials are hoping to come close.”This will be one of our biggest crowds in the last 10 years,” said Dwight Merilatt, assistant athletics director.
Merilatt said Monday if the game were to take place Tuesday, the university would anticipate 15,000-16,000 fans in the stands.
“I think if we have good weather and the response continues to be like it is, we’re going to come close to getting 18,000-20,000 for the game,” he said.
Weather forecasts predict a 60-percent chance of rain with mostly cloudy skies and isolated thunderstorms.
Alex Walker, a freshman criminal justice major from Heborn, said he will be out of town this weekend but doesn’t think the weather will keep students away.
“It sounds like a good game,” he said. “It’s the first home game.”
Merilatt said the student body seems to be “extremely” excited about the upcoming game, and expects student turnout alone to be nearly 5,000.
Merilatt said Eastern is preparing for the crowd by working better with auxilary services such as the Division of Public Safety, Parking and Transportation and Food Services.
“We want to accommodate everyone,” he said.
Eastern is also increasing the number of portable toilets and signs for parking and other needs.
“We do feel pretty confident by 4-5 p.m. much of (Alumni Coliseum) parking lot will already be full,” he said.
Merilatt noted other lots may be different. General parking on campus is free on game day, he added.
John Shaffer, athletics director, said he expects great support from students, the community and alumni.
“We’re hoping the darn thing is full,” he said.
Reach Adam at