All those folks tailgating on North Campus before Georgia home games in Athens — both the responsible ones who pick up and bag their own trash and the jerks who leave the quads looking like a landfill — might as well enjoy it while they can.
Because I’m betting the days of free tailgating on UGA’s two original quadrangles are numbered.
Actually, I’d already come to that conclusion even before school President Michael Adams felt it necessary address the subject of tailgate trash today after a Cabinet meeting in Athens. Adams said crews would put out extra trash bags and containers for the next home game against Arizona State and pleaded with fans to cooperate, but frankly I think it’s too late to save all-free tailgating at UGA.
The trend has started. Already, other schools, including SEC brethren Auburn and Alabama, have started charging hundreds of dollars per game for access to certain areas favored by tailgaters. Let’s face it, not only does making folks pay to tailgate provide greater control over what they do (and leave behind), it’s also a way to make money. And that’s something every university is interested in during these tight-budget times. Especially when you’re having to pay $40,000 per game to clean up the campus.
As soon as I entered North Campus with my son this past Saturday, on our way to visit my nephew’s tailgate party, I said, “I bet within two years they’re charging to tailgate here.”
And that was before this latest garbage uproar even arose. It just makes sense. I don’t think UGA would ever make fans pay for tailgating everywhere on campus (that would generate bad PR), but of all the places on campus that the Bulldogs faithful gather to dine and drink, North Campus would be the easiest place to do it.
The 70 tons of garbage left behind by fans will just give the UGA administration an excuse for restricting tailgating there.
There’s no sense in going on about how disgusting it is that tailgaters can’t be bothered to leave their garbage in bags (the university is happy to pick them up) and that they show no respect for the school they ostensibly support. The kind of tacky folks who do that sort of thing aren’t going to change their ways unless forced to.
“There are other things we can do [if the situation doesn't improve],” Adams said. “I don’t want to start arresting people or have a heavy police presence. We simply ask people to spend a little more time to maintain our campus.”
But policing the campus for litterers would take manpower UGA can better use elsewhere on game days.
Better to turn it over to a private firm that will sell spots to tailgaters and make sure everything is cleaned up after. Yes, it’ll be a shame to see one more game day tradition go away, but at least the campus won’t be left looking like a dump.