SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - University of Notre Dame officials say the evacuation of the football stadium during severe weather over the weekend went according to plan and that it avoided any injuries among the 80,000 fans.
School officials had been monitoring the weather forecast for several days and had a meteorologist on hand Saturday as they decided to order the Notre Dame Stadium stands cleared twice during Saturday's game against South Florida, university spokesman Dennis Brown said.
"When the lightning got within a 10- to 12-mile radius, we said 'It's time to evacuate,'" Brown told WSBT-TV.
Brown said the outdoor stage collapse last month at the Indiana State Fair that killed seven people and last year's death of a Notre Dame student videographer during high winds at a football practice didn't factor into the evacuation decision.
Notre Dame's evacuation plan has been in place for many years and school officials will review it during a meeting on Tuesday, Brown said.
"We were very happy with the way things went, we've never had to evacuate the stadium before," he said. "So we really didn't know how it would go trying to get 80,000 people out of a building."
The evacuations stretched Saturday's halftime to two hours and 10 minutes and prompted a 43-minute delay during the fourth quarter.
Hundreds of fans seeking shelter packed nearby restaurants during the halftime evacuation, which came when they weren't expecting crowds for at least another hour.
"We came out here, looked down the street and saw people coming in droves," Mary Cruk, the manager of O'Rourke's restaurant, told WNDU-TV. "We're like 'They're coming! They're coming!'"
The same storm front Saturday caused the University of Michigan to end its game with Western Michigan early, while Eastern Michigan postponed its game until Sunday.
Brown said Notre Dame officials estimated about 50,000 people could take shelter in the stadium's concourse and that the neighboring Joyce Center basketball arena and a nearby classroom building were opened up for fans.
The game, which started at 3:30 p.m., didn't finish until nearly 10 p.m., hurting the postgame rush at many businesses.
"I think a lot of people just went home afterwards," Cruk said.
(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)