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Texas A&M to revisit tailgate ban after first home football game

Texas A&M to revisit tailgate ban after first home football game

A&M leaders encourage local businesses to attract fans in light of restrictions.

Aggie Park

Kyle Field is viewed Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2020 from Aggie Park, a popular tailgating spot for football games. Tailgating will not be allowed prior to Texas A&M's season opener on Sept. 26.

Texas A&M will revisit its ban on tailgating after the first game of the season, the university announced as part of its updated game day protocols released Thursday.

“We want to see how that goes and see how the stadium operations go before we make any changes,” said Michael Thompson, A&M’s deputy athletic director, at an event hosted by the Brazos Valley Hospitality Association Wednesday night at the Texas A&M Hotel & Conference Center.

A&M President Michael K. Young said at Monday’s Faculty Senate meeting that no tailgating would be allowed on the A&M campus for the first game. As part of the restriction, A&M officials said no tents or grills will be permitted on-campus and Aggie Park and other grass areas will be closed to fans next weekend when the Aggies host Vanderbilt in their season opener.

“Will there be people come in a car and come together and stay by their car and, I hate to say the word tailgate, but tailgate?,” Thompson said. “Sure, and that’s not the intent of what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to limit the big-event tents and things like that.”

The next A&M home game is Oct. 10 when the Aggies play Florida. A&M will host five home football games this season in its revised 10-game, conference-only schedule.

The Southeastern Conference announced in August it would allow individual schools to make decisions regarding tailgating this fall. Since then, 11 schools have banned tailgating: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.

South Carolina announced it "will discourage" fans from tailgating and has prohibited the use of tents. Tennessee is allowing tailgating, but only for families and individuals who plan to sit together in the stadium. Tennessee will not hold university-sponsored tailgates this season.

Wednesday's event had around 80 people in attendance, including local restaurant, retail and bar owners.

Chad Wootton, the A&M provost office’s associate vice president of external affairs, encouraged local businesses to attract fans coming to Bryan-College Station for Aggie football games with game day events and “community-gating” in light of the on-campus tailgating restrictions. Wootton said during a Q&A session that he and other local hospitality and city officials could help local business owners promote things such as occupancy limits, game day specials and reservation websites on game weekends.

“We’ll work with you to help say, ‘It’s not about no tailgating right now, it’s about support our local businesses for this first game and let’s see what happens. Let’s see if we can do some things together,’” Wootton said.

Less than 10 days separate Thursday’s announcement and the start of A&M’s football season, and Wootton said Brazos County’s COVID-19 data 10 days following next Saturday’s game will be a key measuring stick.

“Ten days after Sept. 26, we want to see the same good hospitalization work happening,” Wootton said. “And even if we have more cases … that we’re not losing control of this thing.”

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