Amid Attendance Woes, UConn Curtails Tailgating | Athletic Business

Amid Attendance Woes, UConn Curtails Tailgating

Coming off a 2018 season that saw the lowest actual attendance figures since the opening of Rentschler Field in 2003, the University of Connecticut for the first time instituted free admission to students carrying a valid ID. At the same time, it has outlined strict rules regarding tailgating.

According to the NCAA, the Huskies averaged 20,924 fans, or slightly more than half of Rentschler's 40,000 capacity, over six home games last season. However, the Hartford Courant reported that only about 10,000 fans on average actually entered the stadium on game days. HartfordBusiness.com reported that 20,000 tickets had been sold for UConn's Aug. 29 home opener, a 24-21 win over Wagner, but actual attendance at that game is not clear.

“I think making the rules more strict probably scared off some people, especially incoming freshmen who wanted to go to the tailgate,” fifth-semester environmental engineering major Joseph Forleo told The Daily Campus student newspaper. “But I guess if you were going just for the game, you would still go anyway.” 

How strict are the tailgating rules? Here's a look at what is prohibited:

  • No hard alcohol (beer and wine only)
  • No jugs, large containers, juice containers or other large liquid containers and/or dispensers
  • No trailers or any other attached structures to vehicles
  • No standing in or on top of truck beds and vehicles
  • No glass of any kind 
  • No pets

A letter to students from athletic director David Benedict, posted on UConn's website, reads as follows:

"As we begin the 2019 season of UConn football, I want to invite the entire student body to join us for our home games at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field to enjoy a most exciting part of the student experience.

"We realize that tailgating is an important part of the college football gameday experience and we are happy to offer our students the opportunity to take part in the fun and excitement that precedes the kickoff.

"However, in order to ensure the health and safety of all students and fans, we must emphasize that the same behavior that is expected at on-campus events is also expected at off-campus events sponsored by the University. Students must abide by the football tailgating policy.

"Law enforcement will have a greater presence than in past years to ensure that the tailgating policies are followed and that unacceptable behavior is wiped out. The student lot was created three years ago with the hope that providing an exclusive lot for students would create more enthusiasm and camaraderie among the student body and I still think that can be realized.  

"However, if the student culture cannot adhere to the appropriate guidelines, the student tailgate lot privilege will be eliminated.

"We want every fan to feel safe and secure as they enjoy the game and root for the Huskies.

"Thank you in advance for your support and cooperation and Go Huskies!"

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