ST. LOUIS – A big night for college football fans in St. Louis is almost here. The Missouri Tigers are set to take on the Memphis Tigers at the Dome at America’s Center on Saturday, marking Mizzou Football’s first trip to the Lou since 2010.

Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Tens of thousands are expected and many will enjoy tailgates ahead of the game.

Celebrations began Friday, as the St. Louis Sports Commission partnered with the University of Missouri to create the new “Mizzou to the Lou” series. Including Saturday’s football game, many Mizzou teams will make a quick trip from mid-Missouri to host an athletic event in St. Louis during their 2023-24 seasons.

“This is hopefully just the start,” said Marc Schreiber, president of the St. Louis Sports Commission. He said the early evening kickoff on Saturday should give fans plenty of time take in all the festivities, including marching bands and cheerleaders.    

“Fans will have all afternoon to get ready for kickoff,” said Schreiber.  

Earlier in the week, the final field preps began. The dome’s turf is a little more than eight years old. Dome officials say it’s routinely maintained by astroturf and is game-ready.

Matthew O’Rourke lives in Florida, but the St. Louis County native returned home this weekend to see his favorite college football team.

“I haven’t been to the dome in 20 years,” said O’Rourke. “Not since I was a kid.”

O’Rourke and many other fans believe playing in St. Louis will create more opportunities to recuirt local talent.

“This is the home to so much talent,” said O’Rourke. “We’ve got to be able to recruit kids at a high level, keep them in-state and show them why they should play for Mizzou.”

Tailgating experiences at Baer Plaza and Ballpark Village will begin around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. There are also some other spots where fans can tailgate. Click here for FOX 2’s list of tailgating options.