UNLV officials who want students to attend football games are considering easing up on student tailgating policies.
Members of UNLV’s student government say current tailgating policies discourage student attendance at games. In 2010, tailgating policies were strengthened because of concerns about underage and excessive drinking and fights in the tailgate area, said Juanita Fain, UNLV vice president for students affairs.
“I think we all want the same thing,” Fain said. “We want students to come, tailgate, to go to the game and have a good time in a safe environment.”
UNLV officials met Tuesday afternoon to discuss possible changes to tailgating policies that require students to have tickets to enter the tailgate area. They also are looking at lowering the fee for admittance to the tailgating area at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Officials hope to reach an agreement acceptable to all parties involved before the game at 6 p.m. on Saturday against Western Illinois University.
They also discussed ways to continue to offer free student transportation from the Maryland Parkway campus to Sam Boyd Stadium, which is almost eight miles away on Russell Road, east of Broadbent Boulevard.
The meeting came a day after the student senate voted to cancel its Coach’s Caravan &Tailgate program because the student government failed to reach an agreement with the Regional Transportation Commission. The program offered free student transportation from the student union to the stadium, said Tom McAllister, marketing director for UNLV’s student government.
Last year, student government contracted privately with Ryan’s Express to provide free transportation for students, McAllister said. But with this fall’s opening of the RTC’s new UNLV Transit Center, student government representatives thought it would be more efficient to use the RTC because it already has buses going to the stadium.
After negotiations began this month, the Regional Transportation Commission made an offer to discount daily bus passes from $6 to $4. But McAllister said some students just need a one-way ticket because they catch rides back from games with friends.
The student government would have ended up overpaying, McAllister contended.
That prompted the student senate to cancel its transportation program on Monday for the remainder of this year’s football season.
About 381 students used the free service for the first game of this season, McAllister said. Canceling the program may lead to drinking and driving and lower attendance at the already low-attended football games, he said.
In addition to addressing student safety concerns, UNLV officials also must consider other consequences that might result from policies that lower attendance at football games. To remain a Divison I school, UNLV must average 15,000 paid football tickets or in-house attendance per game, said Tina Kunzer-Murphy, UNLV’s interim athletic director. Last year, UNLV failed to meet that requirement.
But officials are confident they will meet the requirement this year. Not doing so jeopardizes UNLV’s Division I status. The first football game had an attendance of 26,000 and the second game had an attendance of 11,000, Kunzer-Murphy said.
On Tuesday, UNLV officials discussed alternatives for providing free student transportation to football games.
The UNLV Alumni Association has offered to pick up the cost of student transportation to football games, Kunzer-Murphy said Tuesday.
Plans discussed during the meeting will be forwarded to Fain to review.
The proposed tailgate policy changes include allowing students to enter the tailgate area with just their student IDs. Vehicle fees to enter the tailgate area could be lowered from $20 to $10, or even $5, Kunzer-Murphy said.
In 2012-13, people had to pay $40 per vehicle to enter the tailgate area. It dropped to $20 this season, but that’s still a lot for students, said student body President Mark Ciavola.
He said student government had been working with the athletics department to revise or develop new, student-friendly tailgate policies without success.
Also this football season, UNLV removed a cap on the number of students who get in for free to the football games because of the availability of spaces, Kunzer-Murphy said. There is a 2,600 student cap for the basketball games.
Kunzer-Murphy said the proposed changes to the tailgating polices and the possible continuation of free transportation to the football games through other sources are not meant to help meet Division 1 attendance requirements, but are aimed at improving the football experience for students.
“It’s about getting the students out there,” she said.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at 702-383-0440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.