From food to friends, Jacks fans no longer enjoy football solely from the stands.
Tailgating makes a home football game an all-day event, said Micah Grenz, head of SDSU athletic marketing and promotions. He said the athletic department is completely behind the big party in The Backyard, north of the Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
“We love it. It engrosses people in everything Jackrabbits,” he said.
The activities that come with tailgating involve people of all ages, said Grenz. Whether fans are four years old or forty, they can participate in the games.
Dana Dykhouse, a prominent SDSU alumni, said tailgating gives people a more social way to celebrate a game than only sitting in the stands.
“When you are tailgating, you really get a chance to visit with friends and family,” said Dykhouse, a former Jacks football player. We have had reunions there with players we used to play with. It’s just a great time to get together.”
Alumni aren’t the only tailgaters. Justin Larson, a senior mechanical engineering major, said, “I go for the social scene, (to) talk to people I don’t see often.”
Senior biology major Matt Anderson agreed.
“I go mainly to socialize before the game, play some bags, hang out with friends. Get away from classes for the week.”
Things aren’t always that relaxed, though. A lot of things happen in SDSU’s tailgating area, said Anderson. Fans sometimes run around the area in body paint. Anderson said he saw a port-a-potty get tipped over last year as well.
Even students who don’t tailgate often seem to enjoy the experience. But many correlate tailgating with drinking.
Darin Waldner, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, tailgated at last year’s Beef Bowl. “It’s a good thing because everyone is there. Stupidity is contained in one localized area.”
The popularity of tailgating has one irony: People tailgating for a football game at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium can’t watch the game. Fans who want to actually see the game must leave the tailgating area and enter the stands.
“If you can do both, that’s what I like to do,” said Larson. But, he admitted, “it’s hard to get a good seat if you tailgate.”
Anderson said sometimes he goes into the game, sometimes he doesn’t. “Depends on how coherent I am,” he said.
Dykhouse said the length of time tailgating depends on the weather. On nice days, he and his friends will tailgate for a few hours. But his plans change further into the season.
“By November, it is usually a pretty quick tailgate.”
‘The Backyard’ Tailgating area info
SDSU has separate areas for student and alumni tailgaiting. Spots come in three sizes: Blue, yellow and white.
Blue spots: 60 feet by 50 feet and cost $100 per game or $350 per four games. Blue spots fit six vehicles.
Yellow: 30 feet by 50 feet and cost $75 per game or $210 per four games. Yellow spots fit four vehicles.
White: 30 feet by 25 feet and cost $50 per game or $140 per four games. White spots fit two vehicles.
#1.884149:952594492.JPG:pregame017.JPG:A Jackrabbit tailgater tends to some hot dogs and burgers on a propane grill in this undated file photo. :