restrictions on north campus tailgating
By Bruce Hendley - Athens Banner-Herald
Published Sunday, August 08, 2010
Forum: New UGA tailgating rules plainly too strict
Now that the University of Georgia’s football season is just around the corner, I’m wondering how the new restrictions on North Campus tailgating are going to affect those six fall Saturdays.
First, let me say I’ve seen the aftermath of tailgating on North Campus, and the total disregard by many – but not all – for the historic area and the lack of respect for university property. It is not a pretty sight. I understand something needed to be done to deter the lack of respect and disregard for our university. That type of behavior cannot be tolerated.
We’ve tailgated for 20 years on North Campus adjacent to Broad Street, under those beautiful large oak trees. Initially, fewer than 100 tailgaters used that area. In the ensuing years, however, development of the UGA campus displaced tailgaters from other spots, making North Campus more and more crowded.
In fact, university officials should have been preparing for this influx of tailgaters to North Campus. I’m wondering, though, if there was a better solution than virtually shutting down one of the most beautiful and unique tailgating venues in all of America.
Under the regulations in effect for the upcoming football season, North Campus tailgating will be limited to four hours before kickoff. Additionally, no tents, kegs, generators, televisions, amplified music, grills or cookers, tables longer than four feet, or furniture other than folding chairs will be allowed on North Campus.
How will all this affect the many Bulldog fans who tailgate on North Campus, and the money they bring to the community and the university?
From my experience, most all of the littering is coming from the college crowd, students who sleep in and don’t show up until four or five hours prior to kickoff anyway. So, the university still hasn’t really resolved the problem of littering; it’s only inconvenienced its out-of-town alumni and ticketholders.
Under the new rules, by the time you find parking, carry your tailgating supplies, set up and then break down before kickoff to carry your belongings back to your car, and walk to the stadium to see the “Dawg Walk” prior to the game, it just doesn’t make sense to tailgate at all. It becomes a hassle instead of a relaxing, fun, all-day event of football and fellowship with friends and family.
In particular, why were tents and TVs banned from North Campus? How do they harm the area? Tents provide shade and allow tailgaters to be creative and festive in decorating to show team spirit. They also let you know exactly who’s doing the littering, by looking at their setup areas. Most satellite TVs are brought in by the dads and older groups who want to keep up with the other games being held that day.
Neither one harms the campus or is left behind after tailgating.
Other questions come to mind:
► Will the removal of tailgaters from North Campus just disperse the trash to other areas of campus?
► Will the removal of thousands of tailgaters from near downtown shopping affect the downtown retailers?
► Will the hassle of North Campus tailgating reduce season ticket sales?
Here are things we know about tailgating: It’s only six days a year, and people come to Athens and spend money for the entire weekends surrounding those six days. The economy really needs those people right now. Why make it easier for alumni and fans to keep their tailgating and their money at home?
I’d like to find a resolution that punishes transgressors while preserving tailgating traditions. Certainly there are solutions that wouldn’t end up punishing everyone.
One suggestion would be to increase the police presence on campus on football Saturdays, with officers walking around North Campus and issuing hefty fines for littering on university property. The amount of money brought in would more than cover the expense of the additional officers. The money left over could be used for additional trash bins and portable toilets.
We could bring back our tents and continue our daylong tailgating, preserving our wonderful tradition.
After all, how do you best discipline an adult? Hit him in the pocketbook.
• Athens resident Bruce Hendley is CEO/broker of Hendley & Associates Real Estate and a longtime supporter of the Georgia Bulldogs
The Soultion: Buy a Stadium Village Condo and own your own tailgating space 1/2-mile from Sanford Stadium.