Tailgating in 2010 sees new changes and temporary locations

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Tony Gorder, & Marcus TraxlerEditor-in-Chief & Sportswriter

Tailgating prior to SDSU football games returns in 2010 but not without long-term and last minute changes.

For the first time, SDSU students will have their own designated tailgating lot. The lot was supposed to be directly north of the Coughlin-Alumni Stadium lot; however, due to the wet weather, the lot has not been finished.

Just four days before gameday, SDSU Students’ Association passed a resolution calling for the university to take action and find an alternative lot. A phone conference was held among SA senators, Vice President for Student Affiars Marysz Rames, Executive Assistant to the President Bob Otterson and Director of Athletics Justin Sell said Kate Wegehaupt, SA at-large senator and administrative assistant.

It was decided that the temporary student lot will be in a sectioned area of Black Lot directly north of the Wellness center and west of the Performing Arts Center for Saturday’s game against Illinois State. Students should enter the lot from 16th Ave, not North Campus Drive and have their student I.D. and drivers license.

Wegehaupt and Williams said the plan is to have the lot finished for the Oct. 9 meeting against Western Illinois.

“Last fall, we began exploring other opportunities to increase tailgating opportunities for other fans who may only come to a game or two and can’t commit to a full season in the Backyard,” said Christi Williams, assistant athletic director for ticket operations. “So we began the process of coordinating with the university on opening up additional areas (hard surface parking lots) where any fan paying to park in a controlled parking lot for the football game would have the ability to do some single space tailgating.”

For fans that want to tailgate on a single-game basis, SDSU is opening up the lots north of Briggs Library, the Ag Engineering Building, and Frost Arena on a game-by game basis for $5 a car.

The traditional Backyard area will remain open to season-ticket holders who have reserved their spot. Williams reported that the Backyard has sold out for the fourth consecutive season. The commuter lot immediately west of Coughlin-Alumni Stadium will be Priority Parking for those who made a donation to the Jackrabbit Club of at least $300, which supports scholarships for student-athletes.

The tailgating policy is reviewed every year in January, going over what worked and what did not. “We will pull in representatives from the student government, Student Affairs, UPD, Athletics, Facilities and Services, President’s Office and the University Attorney. In the discussions, we consider all our fans. We don’t focus on just one group,” said Williams. The talks do not revolve strictly around tailgating either, as socializing for students, underage consumption, children’s safety and reducing congestion in the backyard.

Some of the rules will stay in place for 2010. The tailgating lots will open four hours before an afternoon game and five hours before a night affair. The gates to the stadium will open 90 minutes before kickoff. Also still intact is the rule requiring all tailgaters to leave or enter the stadium 30 minutes prior to kickoff.

“The concept of tailgating is to add to the overall event experience. The football game is the number one priority. Tailgating, like the video board, the Pride performance on the field prior to the game, is an enhancement we have at the game to add to the overall game day experience,” Williams said. “In order to provide a good experience for everyone, we open the tailgating areas well in advance of the football game to provide significant lead-time prior to the game. Our goal is to not detract from the experience of other fans who may not have been tailgating but instead got into the stadium to get to their seat so they can see the entire game.”

Williams reiterated the ideals of tailgating at SDSU and to remember what gamedays at SDSU are all about.

“Again, our message this year as in the past is responsible tailgating and when the majority of the student body is under 21, the concern is trying to provide a good experience for those below the age of 21 as well as those above it,” Williams said.

“We think that by doing this our fans will actually get a larger feel for the whole gameday experience because now when a fan pulls into the areas surrounding the stadium they will see much greater activity all around and not just confined to one area.” Williams said.