With the rise of the new stadium last season, tailgating at FAU is different and more convenient than in the past. Owl Nation is growing, and along with it, so is the tailgating experience.
Tailgating starts on Friday, Aug. 31, at 4 p.m., and the opening home game vs. Wagner starts at 8 p.m. Housing and Residential Life is inviting new students to take their “first flight” and become a part of the tailgating experience at 6 p.m. Students are welcome to walk the stadium, take pictures close to the field, and welcome the football team to home turf, two hours before the opening game.
In comparison to Lockhart Stadium, the former home for the Owls, the new stadium is much improved.
“To tell you the truth, the tailgating aspect wasn’t enjoyable at all. I could actually see the players changing in the tents. That’s when you know you hit an all-time low,” FAU alumni Danny Robles said. “The stadium was run down, parking lot, everything. I remember seeing people’s cars getting broken into in the bad area that it was in. And how could I forget the annoying airplanes.”
Student Government agrees Lockhart wasn’t the ideal place to tailgate.
“I think the old stadium didn’t provide a way for us to be a community and be Owl fans together. You kind of tailgated by your car, and it was concrete,” Student Body Vice President April Turner said. “You know, it was really bad.”
On game days, four hours prior to kickoff, the Student Alumni Association’s (SAA) victory bell will fill the air signaling the beginning of tailgating at the on-campus stadium.
“We’re the ones that start off the tailgate,” SAA Prowlers Director Phillip Davis said. “No one can turn on their grills or open up a drink before we ring the bell.”
The Rat’s Mouth area, created by Student Body President Robert Huffman, located on the south lawn of the stadium, will be bustling with activities ranging from food, music from Owl Radio, and many different games set up by various clubs and organizations. Alcohol is permitted in areas monitored by the university police.
“Now, with the work of Robert [Huffman] and us following through the second year, we’re right next to our own stadium, our own campus,” Turner said. “There’s more of a big general tailgate, and everyone is all together, and we’re mixing and enjoying each other’s company as opposed to individual tailgates. So it gives us an opportunity to just all be Owl fans together, support our team and have a good time.”
Fan clubs are stepping up their efforts. The Owl Rangers, who reign atop the school spirit hierarchy at FAU with just one year under their belt, have more in store for 2012.
“This year, our tailgates are going to be bigger and better than ever,” Owl Rangers founder Andy Hackett said. “It will be the first time we use the bed box for football.”
The bed box is in the back of a truck loaded with two coolers, two 8-inch sub woofers, along with grilling tools. Hackett says the Owl Rangers will have its own tent with a giant beer pong game using 10 gallon tubs and dodgeballs. Dorm Duels, a social media contest website which has been around for a little over two years, will also be featured. This contest rewards the most crazy campus picture you can take.
“We also plan on teaming up with Dorm Duels to provide gameday shirts and swag,” Hackett said. “We have decided to be with the fans and tailgate in the general public for the season. It’s all about the fans this year.”
At the FAU Alumni Center across the street from FAU Stadium, members get in free, non-members pay a fee of $20, and $10 for children ages 3-12. Admission includes tailgate fare and cold drinks (while supplies last), music, entertainment and family friendly environment, and “the hottest NCAA match-ups broadcast on big screen TVs, and cool, clean and comfortable facilities,” according to its website. A $10 bottomless beer cup will also be available for purchase.
“When you come in you will get food, there will be cable hooked up throughout the alumni center so you can watch other games that are happening. We’ll have a bar, $10 beer cups. We’ll have entertainment,” Mary Beth Albritton, FAU director of development/alumni events and operations for the Alumni Center said. “There will be games on site. It’s good for children and adults. It’s always cleaned and air conditioned so it’s a fun time.”
The new era
A sense of belonging and togetherness is what makes for tradition and school pride. That’s what tailgating is all about according to SG, and the new spot will help out with that.
“The atmosphere will be better,” Robert Huffman said. “I expect there to be a lot more students and fans in the area. It’s going to be great.” He hopes for a crowd of a few thousand since the student-only section seats 5,000. Students can get their tickets online through MyFAU and must bring their Owl Card and printed ticket to the game.
Food is free apart from some different junctions. Owl Radio is making sure fans don’t leave hungry.
“We are going to be co-sponsoring a load of burgers, maybe get some students some discount food,” Owl Radio Station Manager Korey Mitchell said. “Yes, we’re going to have music. Yes, we’re going to have girls dancing, and yes, it’s going to be a blast.”
Young students are intrigued at the possibility of bonding as a community in Boca.
“I enjoy the camaraderie that exists within the student body as we support the football team,” Brandon Lalloo, a freshman exercise science and health promotion major, said. “It’s cool to see people you wouldn’t expect to hang out with each other share a common interest and have a great college experience.”
Lalloo is already hyped to represent his new school.
“I expect it to be very lively and to be an energy packed experience,” Lalloo said. “A whole lot of noise. I expect to put on for FAU and start to put FAU on the map.”
From the casual sports fan to the fanatic, all are welcome to the tailgate. SG had a specific reason for moving the tailgating spot to the south lawn.
“I think it’s important that everyone feels welcome, that’s why we put it in a more general place,” Turner said. “Because Robert [Huffman] and I wanted it to feel like anyone can just show up and be there so we want to make sure that everyone knows that they’re very welcome at this location. We really want to see every person out there. It’s for all of us.”