I’m not sure what the UGA committee assigned with issuing game day rules hopes to accomplish with the “easing” of North Campus tailgate restrictions announced Thursday.
The changes don’t amount to a whole lot: Tables can now be 6 feet long instead of just 4; set-up can now be five hours before kickoff instead of four; and, most notably, tents are allowed again. The five-hour limit might make things a bit easier for morning tailgating on the days of noon games, but still pretty much will preclude much of a tailgating scene if kickoff is scheduled for mid-afternoon or evening.
And the other restrictions instituted last season remain in place. No kegs, generators, TVs, amplified music, grills or cookers of any type or household furniture (folding chairs not included). It’s hard to imagine many folks wanting to go to the trouble of hauling a tent and table to North Campus if they can’t cook anything.
We all recall what prompted the new rules, of course. North Campus had become tailgate central and was one big drunken party. While the official reason for clamping down was to protect the historic old campus quads from damage, in reality UGA was embarrassed by national media attention given to the tons of garbage left behind by tailgaters and the increasingly disgusting behavior (mainly involving drunks relieving themselves in public) during the 2009 season, when there were a lot of night games, making for daylong tailgating.
Tim Burgess, a UGA vice president, maintained Thursday that the changes were never aimed at wiping out tailgating on North Campus. “The essence of the changes was to change the type of behavior and the kind of experience. We saw some tailgating in North Campus last season that fulfilled that,” he told The Red & Black.
In reality, last year, after the new rules were put in place, hardly anybody bothered to tailgate on North Campus, with most of the action shifting to the Myers Quadrangle.
Actually, the biggest surprise in Thursday’s announcement was that UGA decided to hold off on clamping down on the Myers tailgating, which got a bit out of hand when there finally was a night game last season. “There was a lot of discussion about Myers Quad, whether the behavior and types of tailgating on North Campus is now happening on Myers Quad,” Burgess said. “There was some discussion as to whether or not we should institute some restriction over there. The consensus of the committee what that we should not do that yet,” but he wouldn’t rule out restrictions there in the future.
School officials seem conflicted on the issue of tailgating. Probably thinking of all the positive press that Old Miss garners for its charming tailgating scene at the Grove, another UGA veep, George Stafford, told the AJC that it’s hoped that the relaxed rules will “bring more people out and they will have a good time.”
But just adding tents and bigger tables doesn’t seem likely to revive North Campus tailgating. And Stafford made it clear that things won’t go back to the way they were because of “the damage that was being caused. The all-day drinking The behavior issues. … We were just tearing up the grounds there.”
If UGA really wants a healthy tailgating scene on North Campus, one of two different approaches seems necessary: Either turn the North Campus quads over to companies who will operate supervised paid tailgating areas where deposits are forfeited if trash is left behind; or lift the restrictions and deal with the trash and behavior problems by adding a heavier police presence and active enforcement of laws on public drunkenness and indecent behavior.
Halfway measures like those taken Thursday don’t serve anybody’s interests.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg