July 27, 2013 10:46:32 PM
Mississippi State University has adopted new policies designed to manage the expansion of commercial tailgating companies in areas traditionally used by fans who set up their own tents and tailgating facilities.
MSU's Special Events and Game Day Operations Committee adopted the new policies after extensive debate and study of the issues developing at MSU. The committee also reviewed the commercial tailgating policies of several peer institutions with growing, successful athletic programs.
The committee noted the proliferation of such policies across the Southeastern Conference as commercial tailgating operations gain popularity and tensions develop between traditional tailgaters and those who prefer to pay commercial vendors to provide their tailgating setups.
A commercial tailgating fee system for commercial tailgating companies outlined in the new policies will be waived in 2013, but will be levied during the 2014 season to pay for the costs of management and enforcement. The full policy can be reviewed at msstate.edu/web/temp/commercialtents.pdf
"We were concerned about the potential encroachment on the traditional tailgate atmosphere brought about by multiple commercial operators on campus and others seeking to begin operations," said Don Buffum, MSU's director of procurement and contracts. "We regret that these changes may have a negative impact on a small number of our fans but wanted to preserve the first-come, first-served tradition at MSU tailgates for the majority of fans who continue to set up their own tents."
Buffum said some commercial tailgating companies have promised to locate customers/patrons in specific locations, an action that runs counter to the university's long-standing first-come, first-served tailgating policy. "These new policies have nothing to do with the university trying to make money or give better spots to large donors," Buffum said. "We are waiving the fees this year and implementing the fee next year to cover the cost of planning, marking and policing the commercial locations to ensure fairness to all MSU fans."
Under the policies, MSU will designate two areas for commercial tent operations. A commercial operator will be defined as anyone who is paid to set up 10 or more tents. If MSU determines that an operator is setting up more than 10 tents and has not registered, MSU reserves the right to restrict their access to campus.
MSU anticipates having about 250 spaces available for commercial operators, Buffum said. MSU will accommodate as many spaces as possible in the designated areas, but in no way guarantees a certain number of spaces will be available to any commercial operator.
For more information about MSU's tailgating policies, visit fanguide.msstate.edu.