It will now be easier and less expensive for University of Nevada, Las Vegas students to tailgate before football games.
UNLV officials hope changes to the university’s tailgating policies will increase student attendance at games, said Chris Bonnell, director of sports marketing and licensing at UNLV Athletics.
“We are hoping that the changes will make it more affordable for students to come out to the games,” he said. “We are hoping more students come out.”
Members of UNLV’s student government earlier this week said strict tailgating policies discouraged students from going to games. Officials said the policies were strengthened in 2010 because of concerns about underage and excessive drinking and fights in the tailgate area.
Officials met Tuesday to discuss possible changes to ease the rules. On Thursday, letters were sent to students by email, informing them of the changes, Bonnell said.
Students will now be allowed to enter the tailgate area with their student IDs. The fee for students to enter the area was dropped to $10 per vehicle, but non-students will still have to pay $20 per vehicle.
Last year, the fee was $40 per car.
Additionally, the UNLV Alumni Association will pay for the cost to provide free transportation to students from the Maryland Parkway campus to Sam Boyd Stadium, which is almost eight miles away on Russell Road, east of Broadbent Boulevard.
The student government used to offer free transportation but it canceled its program for the remainder of this year’s season.
The changes will be in effect for today’s game against Western Illinois University. The game starts at 6 p.m.
UNLV student body President Mark Ciavola said those are the changes the student government had asked the athletic department for in August. The request was rejected.
He said officials didn’t listen to students’ concerns back then. But now, changes are being made because of low attendance at the games.
“That’s what’s unfortunate,” he said. “My guess is that when you have a team that is not as successful as it needs to be to bring people out… maybe you recognized that you need to make some changes.”
To remain a Division I school, UNLV must average 15,000 paid football tickets or in-house attendance per game. Last year, UNLV failed to meet that requirement.
Earlier this week, officials said the changes were not aimed at helping the school meet that requirement this year, but to get more students out to the games.
There are still rules that will continue to prevent students from tailgating and attending the games, Ciavola said. For example, he said people can’t take alcohol into the tailgate area unless it’s in a vehicle, so they must pay $10 to drink their beer.
“They can drink it at home for free,” he added.
The tailgate area also shuts down 30 minutes before the game starts, but it doesn’t take that long to walk over to the game, Ciavola said. And loud music isn’t allowed among other things.
Regardless, he said the changes are a good start.
“It’s a move in the right direction,” he said.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (702) 383-0440, or firstname.lastname@example.org.