A game-day celebration was born this season for fans of UMD Bulldog football: the classic tradition of tailgating has made its way to the parking lots outside of Malosky Stadium. According to UMD Athletics, it has been a great success so far. This season, UMD designated tailgating parking lots to allow Bulldog football fans a chance to come together and celebrate their team before Saturday night games.
“It's been a fun, fan-friendly, festive, and enjoyable football atmosphere,” said Josh Berlo, UMD’s newest athletic director. “People are thoroughly enjoying it.”
Before each of the last two home games, UMD sold out both designated lot C, directly outside the stadium, as well as lot B, also known as “the pay lot.” Bulldog fans enjoyed all the festivities that go along with the tailgating experience, including barbeques, beer and beanbag tosses.
Lot C was originally intended as the only tailgating lot, but due to the popularity of the event, UMD made the pay lot available as well. Lot C permits have mostly sold out, but the pay lot remains a first come, first served system. Lot C spots cost $10 per car and pay lot spots are $5.
Part of the new pre-game celebration includes the Bulldog Walk, where UMD’s marching band leads the football players through the tailgating crowd 45 minutes before the game. Fans get the chance to mingle with the athletes before they hit the field.
UMD allows alcohol to be served during the game-day festivities both inside and outside of the stadium. While UMD is typically a dry campus, an exception is made for the tailgating events and football games.
"There were some concerns to ensure that we were doing this the right way, that it was handled responsibly, and that we were promoting an appropriate environment,” Berlo said. "Those were all valid concerns and important discussions (that had) to be had."
The administration still considers UMD a dry campus, although alcohol is sold and permitted at sporting events—the only time and place it’s allowed.
No kegs or other large-quantity, common-source alcohol containers are allowed. Use of glass is also prohibited. People consuming alcohol must be over 21 years old. Police patrolling the area are on the lookout for underage drinkers.
"Our tailgaters have been very respectful,” Berlo said.
Tailgating begins three hours before the start of the game and can only go on for one hour after. Waste and recycling bins have been provided to keep the area clean of debris. Vehicles are allowed to stay in the spot until the lot closes at midnight.
Open fires and couches are not allowed. Tailgaters are prohibited from selling food or beverages.
“Tailgating is a great way for students to support the team,” said Mia Johnson, Students Association (SA) member who helped in the process of bringing tailgating to UMD. "People want to support the Bulldogs more. The more students with spirit at the games, the better it is for the UMD community."
With the homecoming game against St. Cloud State coming up, Bulldog football fans can look forward to another weekend of tailgating festivities.
“UMD has a great game-day environment,” Berlo said. “It takes an extremely successful program, which we have here. We have great student athletes and a great fan base.”
BY GRAHAM HAKALA