Football Without Tailgating?
Tailgating is such an integral part of college
football’s tradition, pageantry and culture that
it’s difficult to imagine game day without fans
partying outside the stadium, hours before kickoff.
College football without tailgate parties and pregame
activities that bring students, alumni and the community
together on fall Saturdays would be like having
Thanksgiving turkey without the dressing.
The game, like the turkey, is and always will be the
main attraction. But there’s no doubt that tailgating,
whether it’s grilling in a parking lot or taking part in an
impromptu pep rally, adds flavor to the game-day experience
that makes college football one of America’s favorite
Since the Alamodome opened in 1993, fans of other
universities have partied outside the 65,000-seat facility
before Alamo Bowls, Big 12 title games and an assortment
of other college football matchups. Even Notre Dame
played at the dome in 2009.
Starting this year, UTSA students and alumni finally will get
their chance to join the fun. After years of anticipation, the
Roadrunners open their inaugural season Sept. 3 against
Northeastern (Okla.) State at the Alamodome. All six UTSA home
games this season start at 1 p.m.
"This is something that I've wanted for our students for the
past 10 years, to have a major college experience," said John
Kaulfus, associate dean of students. "From the time they wake up
on Saturday until they go to bed, I want them to be thinking of
UTSA and major college football. It's going to be so much fun for
our students to have the chance to experience this.
“For years, we were a commuter school, but we have become
a traditional residential campus. Having a traditional football
game day is another step toward becoming a Tier One research
university. Football is really going to bring our students and the
San Antonio community together.”
UTSA, which has an enrollment of about 31,000, will provide
park-and-ride shuttle bus service to the Alamodome for UTSA
students at a discounted price.
Kaulfus, a Seguin native who graduated from
the University of Texas at Austin in 1992, heads a
committee that’s spent a good part of the past 18
months planning UTSA’s pregame festivities.
“I’ve never seen the students more excited than
they’ve been about football,” Kaulfus said. “There’s definitely a
buzz on campus. You can feel it.”
Athletics Director Lynn Hickey said UTSA officials have a
responsibility to provide a fun atmosphere before games. “We
want to provide different opportunities and allow fans to choose
what they want to do,” she said. “We have classy fans and want
to provide classy pre-game opportunities—just like those experienced
at the Alamo Bowl games and other games played at the
Hickey said UTSA will work closely with restaurants downtown
to promote business on Friday and Saturday nights.
Introducing Rowdy Town and Roadrunner Station
Located in the North Plaza outside of the Alamodome, Rowdy Town opens three hours prior to
kickoff before each home game. Rowdy Town will feature a play area for kids, and an official tailgate party with live music.
Sunset Station will be renamed Roadrunner Station for every game day and will be the central meeting
place for all Roadrunners. There will be live music, activities, giveaways and concessions. Roadrunner
Station will be open from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Arrive by 11 a.m. to see the team and band march into the Alamodome.
Go to the Game Day Website
"We want our games to drive some value downtown," Hickey
The north plaza outside the Alamodome—which will be
called Rowdy Town—will be the epicenter of pregame fun.
Rowdy Town will open three hours before kickoff and offer free
entertainment for young and old. There will be play areas for children,
complete with inflatables, and live music. Food and drinks
will be sold at concession booths.
“As Lynn Hickey says, ‘San Antonio doesn’t throw a party; it
throws a fiesta,’” said Jim Goodman, associate athletics director
for marketing. “We want that whole area to be a place where
people will mingle, get something to eat, drink and listen to music
before going into the Alamodome. Included in this will be the
Bud Light Stage with various bands.”
Roadrunner Station, located just north of the Alamodome
at historic Sunset Station, also will have live music and a family-friendly
“We’ve tried to create an environment where there will be
something for everyone—students, alumni, children, families
and the general public,” said Barry McKinney, director of student
activities. “If you’ve got a family, [Roadrunner Station] is going to
be affordable. You can take your family and make a day of it.”
The highlight of pregame activities at Roadrunner Station
will be when the UTSA band and football team walk through the
venue en route to the Alamodome, said Jim Mickey, associate
vice president of alumni programs and marketing.
“We want to have a spirit line at Roadrunner Station and
create a tradition,” Mickey said. “We want Roadrunner Station to
be a fun place for people to congregate before Roadrunner games
and get excited talking about UTSA football.”
Mickey said the goal is to create different
events in multiple places, allowing people
to choose how to participate.
“Our pregame festivities will almost be like a menu,” he said. “We just want people to
have fun. We don’t want to have cover charges because we know
people will want to move around from place to place. We want
our fans to have fun with us however they choose to.”
A 1978 UTSA graduate, Mickey said football has drawn alums
back to the university. UTSA has about 85,000 alumni, with about
55,000 living in the San Antonio area.
“There’s no doubt that our alumni are excited about UTSA
football,” Mickey said.
Goodman said the Roadrunners’ pregame festivities outside
the Alamodome will be a work in progress.
“We’re just trying to set up something for the fans, give them
some structure, but things probably will change from game to
game. It’s all going to evolve,” Goodman said. “The great thing, the
cool part, is that we get to start it. We get to put stuff out there and
see what stuff takes root."
The proximity of the Alamodome to the River Walk gives
UTSA fans another option for pregame revelry.
“When you ask 10 people what they mean by tailgating, you
might get eight different answers,” Goodman said. “We’re not
like other colleges. We’re playing in downtown San Antonio and
there’s an attraction, the River Walk, nearby. To some people,
tailgating is going to mean going to the River Walk
before a game.”
Since the Alamodome has only about 2,500 parking spaces,
slots for traditional tailgating will be limited in the facility’s
Football season ticket holders with Alamodome parking
passes may tailgate in lots B or C. Student organizations and
UTSA alumni will have designated tailgating areas in these same
“People will determine through experience how and where
they want to tailgate,” Hickey said.
Mickey said it’s important to remember that tailgating and
football are new for UTSA. “We don’t have a 100-year college
football history like some other Texas schools,” he said. “The neat
part about that is our students, alumni and the city of San Antonio
get to create new Roadrunner traditions. These traditions will
evolve from game to game in year one and over time as we build
our program to the top tier.”
UTSA, which added football to its athletic program in 2009,
will compete as an independent in the Football Championship
Subdivision, formerly NCAA Division I-AA, this season. The
Roadrunners will move up to the Football Bowl Subdivision,
formerly Division I-A, in 2012 when they start playing in the
Western Athletic Conference.
Larry Coker, who guided Miami to the 2001 BCS national
championship, was hired as UTSA’s head coach
in March 2009. Coker, his coaching staff and the
Roadrunners’ players drew a big ovation last
October when they were introduced at a pep rally
“That excitement has never, ever left,”
McKinney said. “There’s a lot of anticipation
in the air.”
Given that anticipation, the atmosphere
inside and outside the Alamodome
should rock on Sept. 3.