Pushing tailgate into a smaller space may relieve congestion and keep the fields clean, but it is not a sustainable solution if the university intends to keep students coming to games.
Previous tailgates have devolved into sprawling messes, both logistically and literally. Attendees could become lost in the crowd and encounter difficulty locating particular tents, a process not helped by the stadium parking lot’s irregular shape, pedestrian traffic crossing Aquarena Springs Drive and narrow spaces between trailers. The smaller space last weekend, however, forced tents into orderly rows that allowed traffic to flow more efficiently.
However, traffic flowed more freely because there was a lot less of it. The smaller area and increased demand for spaces discouraged many organizations from even attempting to secure a spot. These organizations’ members took their partying elsewhere or abstained altogether, giving them even less inclination to attend the game than Texas State students notoriously tend to have.
Tailgate may be a logistical headache for the university, but its positive correlation to game attendance cannot be overlooked.
The SFA game drew 17,188 spectators, only slightly more than half the stadium’s new capacity. Considering the evening kickoff, Nacogdoches’ relatively close proximity to San Marcos and Texas State’s strong record against SFA, this number is surprisingly low. The only factor not pointing to strong attendance was the reduced tailgate, an issue that will apparently affect home games for the rest of the season. If the university intends to fill the renovated stadium, it must embrace tailgate in all its messy, but spirited glory.
Possible explanations for the tailgate move and subsequent shrinking into the Strahan parking lot are as numerous as the bits of garbage strewn about the Jowers practice field after the Texas Tech game. The decision, pushed by the Associated Student Government and announced in an email from the vice president of student affairs, could have been a hasty reaction to the extreme litter following that game. Otherwise, it may have been a subtle admission that the university and city’s infrastructure is not yet adequately equipped for a 30,000-person crowd to match the amount of stadium seating. This tailgate may have been more organized, but it cost many student organizations the opportunity to fully embrace the event, cutting down attendance.
Even ifcontinues to book the same number of spaces, droves of wandering fans will keep growing, resulting in packed conditions in the small Strahan lot as the season goes on. The new setup has bought the city and university time to plan for future crowds, but the current ones are already growing. A long-term plan for a full-size tailgate must be reached by the time Texas State reaches the Sun Belt Conference next year.