New tailgating policy gets mixed reviews from fans, athletic department

Marcus Traxler

Marcus Traxler Sportswriter

Tailgaters were out in full force on Sept. 18 prior to SDSU’s home opener against Illinois State, creating a festive atmosphere around Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.

Many students congregated in the student lot north of the HPER Center and seemed to be enjoying themselves. Students conversed with each other and played yard games.

The Backyard was also packed with Jackrabbit fans, many set up large tents for the afternoon. The areas north of Briggs Library and Ag Engineering were also popular areas for tailgaters looking to set up for the game.

However, the Athletics Department did voice some concern about the effect of the game’s aftermath on the student lot.

“The biggest issue for the university, in my opinion, is the issue of the students’ area not being cleaned up by the students themselves,” said Christi Williams, SDSU’s assistant athletic director for ticket operations. “Athletics distributed trash bags in each tailgate lot including the student lot but far and above any other area was the mess left in the student lot.”

John Hanson, a sophomore mathematics major from Dell Rapids, said he thought the student lot was a good idea.

“It’s really nice,” Hanson said. “The field is over there but it seems like they created a pretty good atmosphere.”

Williams estimated that the student lot was about 75 percent full and the Athletic Department reported that there weren’t any major incidents.

Caleb Shives, a sophomore media production major from Watertown, voiced his concern about the surface.

“It is a little different on asphalt and has totally different feel than on grass. It’s a little different being amongst the parking and that takes a bit away from the tailgating experience. It would also be nice to be with the other adults, but we do have a nice group of students.”

Shives also voiced his approval of the move to the gravel lot on the other side of the stadium for the Oct. 9 match-up against Western Illinois.

Williams also talked about the interesting dynamic involved with positioning in the parking lots.

“It was interesting to see the jockeying for vehicle spaces near the perimeter of lots to have green space to set up on. Yet others seemed to like the openness of the middle of lots where they could put three or four cars together.”

The $5 fee for parking is used to help pay for costs that come with staffing and cleaning the lots as well as paying for signage, cart rentals, toilet rental and dumpster rental. Some of the proceeds also go to the marching band as part of their “Park for the Pride” program.

The tailgating task force will likely meet sometime this week to review the pros and cons of the day’s setup.

Williams also emphasized that the social aspect is what makes tailgating so attractive to many SDSU fans.

“Tailgating is just another part of the overall game day experience of attending an SDSU football game,” Williams said. “While some may see it as a critical part of it, the vast majority of our patrons just like the opportunity to take part in the social opportunity tailgating provides.”