UNLV changes its tailgating policy, will give students free ride to football games


Sam Morris

UNLV and UNR fans play a friendly game of “flip cup” while tailgating before a 2010 rivalry game.

UNLV vs. Central Michigan

UNLV junior wide receiver Devante Davis catches his third touchdown in a 31-21 victory over Central Michigan at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Launch slideshow »

UNLV officials adopted policies today they hope will increase student attendance at home football games, said Tina Kunzer-Murphy, the interim athletic director.

After the student government canceled its program that provided transportation for students between campus and Sam Boyd Stadium, and a tailgating event, ticket distribution for students went from 3,881 for the home opener Sept. 7 against Arizona to 1,369 last Saturday for the game against Central Michigan. The “Coach’s Caravan” program, for which $22,000 of student fees were allocated for, provided free bus rides for full-time students and a pregame tailgate.

A posting on the student government website said the program was discontinued last week because of a disagreement on fares with the Regional Transportation Commission bus system and the university’s unwillingness to change tailgating policies students viewed as restrictive. The student government was negotiating with RTC after using an independent bus company last season.

Representatives from the UNLV athletic department’s event and marketing staffs met today to address the concerns.

Here are the new policies, which Kunzer-Murphy said are effective immediately:

• Fans — students and nonstudents — will be allowed to enter the tailgating area in the Sam Boyd parking lot without a game ticket. Previously, a ticket was required to participate. Any student showing their Rebel Card (student ID) at the tailgate gets free food and a giveaway prize.

• Students with a Rebel Card can drive into the pregame tailgate for $10. It’s $20 for nonstudents, which is down from $40 last year. Alcohol can only be brought into the tailgate in a vehicle, which is a point of contention for students.

• The alumni association will pay for students to be transported to and from Sam Boyd — about eight miles from campus — on an RTC bus. Last year, when student government paid for an outside company for transportation, about 1,000 students used the service at least once.

“We asked: How can we get the students back?,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “That is what we are trying to do. We are trying to find ways to accommodate the students.”

One of those ways is to loosen rules on the pregame tailgate, said Mark Ciavola, the student body president. While the concessions made today are a step in the right direction, Ciavola is still urging athletics to change their stance on how alcohol is transported into the tailgate. Currently, alcohol must be brought in a vehicle; students want to be able to carry it in on foot.

“If people are going to drink in the tailgate area, isn’t it better if they don’t drive?” Ciavola said.

UNLV tightened tailgating policies in 2010 after alcohol-fueled incidents such as fighting during the rivalry game with UNR.

“It is really important for the university to make sure students are safe and the university is safe,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “We are trying to work with student government to come out with a safe and great experience.”

Just 577 student tickets have been issued for Saturday’s home game against Western Illinois, which is a lower-division opponent and not a marquee matchup on the schedule. And, until earlier today, transportation was still in question.

Ciavola said funds for student tailgating and the transportation program were given back to the student senate after it was discontinued last week. The earliest the tailgating program could return is for Oct. 12 against Hawaii — transportation, about $4 per student, will be handled by the alumni association.

“It is a great start, but there are still issues that need to be resolved,” Ciavola said. “This is progress and this is good.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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