University, Athletic Department implement wristband policy


People ages 21 and older now have to wear a wristband to drink alcohol at South Dakota State tailgating. 

The Athletic Department and university officials teamed up to a create new policies to go along with the new Dana J. Dykhouse stadium.

Wristband’s can be found at five wristbanding locations throughout the tailgating areas.

According to Jonathan Treiber, director of athletic marketing, the wristbands are an effort to solve some of the problems of underage consumption that occur during big games like Hobo Day and against North Dakota State. 

Additional police officers from surrounding areas will assist during game days to monitor wristbands and the safety of individuals at the games.

Students will be able to drink alcohol in the student tailgate lot, but Treiber encourages students to use common sense.

“That’s one thing that sometimes gets lost on a Saturday game,” Treiber said. “The UPD officers and the other police officers are not going to be looking for trouble.”

In addition to the wristbanding policy, students will now have a tailgating area to call their own.

The student-only tailgate area is located behind the Wellness Center in front of the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. This lot is located where a $10 pay lot used to be. The student lot is half-paved, half-grass.

Previously, students tailgated with alumni and community members in the North Lot behind the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex.

“We’re still giving them a great space to congregate and enjoy their Saturdays,” Treiber said. “It’s essentially just a different location.”

The student tailgate lot, called the Rabbit Den Tailgate, is one of the 11 updated tailgate lots surrounding new stadium. 

“We’ve had some complaints as far as there’s are about two, three games a year that things can get a little out of hand, which is a expected for those dates,” Treiber said. “It’s not something that is a big surprise to us. We’re trying to figure out ways to give students their own space.”

According to Treiber, the complaints from previous years while students still shared the North tailgate lot with community members and alumni were centered around the emergency services not being able to get through the student huddle and some incidences of thrown objects. 

“It was kind of a logistics nightmare trying to figure out what we thought their next step would have been, but they never had a plan,” Treiber said. “It always just kind of formed. It was difficult to try and work with that.”

Last year, the Athletics Department attempted to create a separate tailgate lot for students, but the students were unreceptive to the change.

“Part of our issue last year was that it was located so close to the back yard that you heard it, you saw it, why not? Why not go over there? Putting it completely on the other side of the stadium will help.”

Treiber acknowledged the new student tailgate is a change, but he sees it as a change for the better.

“I think it would be awesome for students to have a consistent tailgate lot and be able to mold that to what they want whether it is with Greek and organizations or if it just students and athletes being able to kind of make a spot their own that is really well located place for them as far as their entrance and where their dorms are,” he said.

Students interested in tailgating in this lot are asked to sign up for a tailgating space with the Athletics Department. In an effort to encourage students to use this tailgate, Coach TJ Otzelberger will be grilling hot dogs at the Rabbit Den Tailgate at 4:30 p.m. following the student walk led by the Barnyard Cadets at 4 p.m. at Larson Commons. 

Other changes for all people attending football games at the Dana J. Dykhouse include no re-entry into the stadium and more items are barred from the stadium. Coolers and strollers are some items included in the new “not allowed list.”

According to the director of University Marketing and Communications, Mike Lockrem, the new tailgating changes and the wristbands were created because of the new Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. 

Lockrem said it’s the first year the stadium will be open and it will be a learning experience of what works and what practices will be changed for next year.

“It’s a historic time for the university,” Lockrem said. “We get to open a first class venue.”

Students are having initial reactions to the new regulations.

Katie French, sophomore architectural design major, usually spends her Saturdays assisting the inflatables for children with the dance team. 

French liked that the students were able to tailgate with community members and alumni in the North tailgate lot. However, she understands why the school decided to implement a student-only tailgate area.

She also acknowledged the positives of using wristbands to signify students over the age of 21.

“I think it’s going to be a good idea to have the wristbands, but is it going to be effective?” French said. “I don’t know.”

Lockrem and other university officials looked at the new stadium as an “opportunity” to look at previous practices and make things better.

“The goal is to ensure a wonderful game day experience for everyone that attends a football weekend,” Lockrem said. “A football weekend, when done correctly, showcases the university.”