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December 16, 2017

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Be the life of the party: Tips on how to get your tailgate on for UNLV games

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L.E. Baskow

Tailgaters play some corn hole and party a bit before the game as UNLV faces UCLA at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday, September 12, 2015.

Meet the Rebels

The Rebel Block Party (adjacent to the tailgate area) features games for kids and appearances by players and coaches. Shaded areas and seating have been added for this season. It’s a free event.

Bring your student ID

For UNLV students, officials have created Rebel Village at the stadium — replete with free food, swag and pregame hype. Students also get free tickets and transportation to games.

The Las Vegas weather is getting more bearable. Football season is in full swing. And the Rebels have two crucial league games on the horizon.

With home dates Sept. 30 against San Jose State and Oct. 7 against defending Mountain West champion San Diego State, it’s an ideal time to tailgate at Sam Boyd Stadium.

When you consider there’s only a handful of home games each season, it’s easy to understand why the art of tailgating is so important for some. Many fans don’t even attend the game — they’ll stay in the parking lot just listening to the radio broadcast.

Before you light the grill or paint your face scarlet and gray, here are some pointers to enjoy the day.

THE GROUNDS

UNLV officials have made improvements this season to the tailgating experience at Star Nursery Field west of the stadium. There are food trucks and more restrooms, and the school teamed with Las Vegas Paving to spray water on the nearby unpaved lots to help limit dust.

FOOD PREP

The key to a successful tailgate — aside from a UNLV victory later in the day — is doing the snack preparation before you leave the house. The more organized, the better.

• Trim and marinate your steak or chicken the night before, and place on kebab sticks.

• Form your ground meat into hamburger patties, placing them between wax paper to keep them separated.

• Slice fruit, chop onions and other hamburger toppings.

• Pack a bag with everything you’ll need, from grilling tools to ketchup and mustard.

SITE PREP

When it comes to dominant college teams with giant fanbases, grabbing a good spot in the party lot involves competition. You might not have to queue up for one before a Rebels game, but plot the time based on the complexity of your setup. If you’re just dropping the tailgate and pulling out some camp chairs, it’s a relaxed process. But it’s not uncommon to see fans rent a box-truck for their gear, which could include sofas and lawn chairs, tables, a grill or smoker, even a sound system and television. They’ll arrive hours before their friends to get the layout just right.

• Tailgating spots for vehicles range from $30 general admission in advance via unlvtickets.com ($35 day of game) to $110 for a reserved area, which includes six passes. The area opens four hours before kickoff and closes one hour after the game.

• Don’t forget about the decorations. Tailgaters have been known to go overboard in their design to celebrate a day of football. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. For as little as $20, you can purchase flair and a tablecloth in your team’s color, with matching plates, napkins and utensils.

GAMES

The most common tailgate activity seems to never change. Throwing a football or Frisbee, whether it is children in their youth jerseys or adults hoping not to pull a muscle, remain the most popular pregame pastimes.

Cornhole, in which competitors attempt to throw bean bags 4-5 feet into elevated boards, also is prominent. Boards featuring school logos and colors are available for $200 at victorytailgate.com.

PREGAME COCKTAILS

Besides being an opportunity to socialize before a game, tailgating is a necessity in most college towns to beat traffic and consume adult beverages. That’s not the case at Sam Boyd Stadium, where traffic is usually light. It also is among the third of college football venues across the nation where beer is sold.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21

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