I was out last night enjoying a lovely dinner and catching up with a friend. When I finally checked my phone when I got home, I was alarmed to see countless texts from Gopher Football fans who were irate about the home opener vs. UNLV on August 29th. I thought to myself, “what could fans be upset about? It's less than a month away and there has been so much excitement surrounding the team. Most of us just wish we could skip the month of August so we could attend our 1st Gopher football game of the year!” But then I read this thread on www.GopherHole.com:
It's not just a rumor, as the 2013 Game Day guide that I received today (and had previously been excited for) included the following information about the UNLV game:
Basically, for this rare and coveted night game, the tailgate lots will not be open until 3pm, leaving only 3 hours for people to tailgate. You typically get 6 hours for Gopher football games after 2:30pm, and 4 hours for 11am games. Aside from the fact that people in parking lots near the stadium who are paying $1000-$2500 for their tailgate spot don’t appreciate being robbed of those extra hours, this also hurts the wider game day atmosphere. We have heard repeatedly that the U is trying to improve the lackluster game day atmosphere. If that’s true, then this is certainly NOT the way to do it.
Additionally, the normal football parking lot near the State Fairground will not be open for UNLV game parking (seemingly due to the State Fair). Anyone with a season pass for this lot will be issued a spot in the Washington Avenue Ramp, which means that they will not be able to tailgate before the game. This decision was not made prior to the season ticket renewal process and season ticket holders in the St. Paul lot purchased their parking thinking they would be able to tailgate for all 7 home games.
Beyond the logistical issues affecting parking and tailgating, this decision impacts Gopher fans on more personal levels as well. For instance, many people took off a full day of work for this game so that they could enjoy an afternoon of tailgating. Had they known the parking lots wouldn’t open until 3pm, they could have just ducked out from work a little early to make it instead. And with the game less than a month away, not everyone will be able to change their schedules to recoup the wasted PTO.
The displeasure extends beyond the Gopher Hole. Here is a small sampling of the upset fans I’ve seen on Twitter:
For those of you who have read my blog, you'll see that 99% of the time when I address a problem like this, I also list a number of solutions. But I’m not going to do that today. The list of options for improving the game day atmosphere for this game is not complex. It would be great if the powers that be at the U could follow through on their words and actually effect a positive change instead of implementing an option that will have the opposite effect.
What’s also maddening is how they quietly included this important detail in the Game Day Guide instead of proactively publicizing it. They could have issued a press release stating the reasoning behind the decision which explained all of the avenues the U had exhausted before coming to this decision. If that had been the case, I think people would be more understanding of the move even if they disagreed with it. Instead, fans are left feeling frustrated and misled as the sweet feeling of receiving their season tickets in the mail turns sour.
Nadine Babu is the CEO and Social Media Strategist at Babu Social Networks and completed her undergraduate degree and MBA at the Carlson School of Management. She manages and writes for GopherHole.com