FAMU fans react to new tailgating policy

The change is a result of renovations
FAMU tackling football, ticketing issues
Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 9:29 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Florida A&M University announced a new tailgating policy Wednesday, prohibiting Rattlers from gathering in the spot they’ve been tailgating at for decades.

According to FAMU, the change is a result of renovations, including the addition of a new road, which the university said made the area unsafe for tailgating.

The university has designated a new space for tailgating on Paddyfote lawn. There are 30 spaces allocated for Saturday’s game, but FAMU Athletic Director Tiffani-Dawn Sykes said more spaces will be added for future games.

Earlier this week, the spots were available to reserve online, but they were all taken within an hour. This time, the spots were free, but for future games, fans will have to pay.

Rattlers fans used to tailgate in an area they call “the hill,” right next to Bragg Memorial stadium. Now, fans aren’t allowed to tailgate there.

Fans are still allowed to park in their designated spot in the Bragg Memorial stadium parking lot. Those spaces are reserved for FAMU Investing in Champions members, who have already had to pay at least $1,000 to be a member.

Some Investing in Champions members told WCTV they found out recently that the spots they had paid for, which are typically right next to each other, are now scattered throughout the parking lot, making it more difficult for them to tailgate.

Longtime tailgater Earl Hankerson said the new rules are disrupting a decades-long FAMU tradition.

“We’ve been tailgating on a section that we call the hill, we’ve been doing that for over two decades,” Hankerson said. “And we’ve been fortunate to pretty much squat on that area for quite a while. And, you know, we understand that things are going to change, and we have no issue with that. But it’s the way that it’s communicated.”

The new policy was in effect for last weekend’s game, but the university didn’t send out a press release announcing the changes until Wednesday, leaving fans like Hankerson feeling blindsided.

Sykes apologized for not announcing the changes sooner, but said she feels the new policy is in the best interest of fans.

“I do recognize that the communication could have been sooner,” Sykes said. “It could have been better, and I definitely dropped the ball there. But I do want to make sure that everyone knows this is done in the best interest of everyone’s safety, and I think a tailgate village in this space is really going to be phenomenal for camaraderie, for fellowship, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

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