The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday May 28th

Tailgating fans are few and far between

Some blame parking, alcohol regulations

At a University where sports are not just a passion but a lifestyle, the beginning of a new season means a shift in the mood on campus. Franklin Street is stained blue, and Saturday afternoons are reserved - for football - on calendars across the state. But for most UNC fans, tailgating options are limited, especially compared with neighboring schools such as Duke, Wake Forest and N.C. State universities. At the last two football games, fans said parking space, drinking restrictions and subdued football enthusiasm made for lackluster pre-game celebrations in local parking lots. For some alumni, the pre-game tailgate is like a ritual. "We go to every game here, and everywhere," said Lillie Sapp, who was one of a group of about 30 in the Bell Tower parking lot before the Sept. 2 Rutgers game. "I've only missed five games anywhere since 1995." Her husband is an alumnus, and her group came from as far as Virginia and New York to sip from blue Solo cups, offer around fried chicken and potato salad and brag about their dedication. But for students such as Kellan White, Carolina Fever chairman, the tailgating scene at UNC could use some work. "I have a lot of friends who go to Michigan and the tailgate there is a lot bigger than here," he said. "I think most of that is due to space because there's not a lot of room during football games." White said that many students don't tailgate because of restrictions about drinking on campus, but that alcohol shouldn't be a necessary element of pre-football rituals. "I can go out and make some burgers and hot dogs and get ready for the football game and not have to be drunk to enjoy the game," he said. Randy Young, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said that for safety reasons, alcohol is not allowed on campus without a permit. Permits typically go to organizations such as the Carolina Club, which has a tailgate for members in the George Watts Hill Alumni Center. "The basic premise with regard to alcohol on campus is that it's a non-tolerance policy," he said. "We cite any open containers that are not precluded by a liquor permit." Other factors contribute to what some call an unsatisfying tailgate scene. At a school where basketball is the biggest deal, football enthusiasm often is subdued. But at Duke, a school also known more for its skills on the court than on the field, student tailgating is such a raucous event that university officials recently imposed new regulations. Still, at the first home game, Duke students continued to tailgate. White said that because of the lack of a traditional UNC student tailgating scene, Carolina Fever will hold non-alcoholic tailgate events this season. He's planning tailgates outside dorms and is soliciting Franklin Street eateries for food donations. "I think people need to realize that we're more than a basketball school," he said. Which is why the senior class marshals also are looking to improve the student tailgate scene. On Saturday in the Forest Theatre, the senior class will hold an event with all the traditional tailgate elements: music, a bean bag toss - which is popular in some areas - hamburgers, hotdogs and possibly poker games, said senior class marshal Daniel David. "Duke and State have tailgates, but Carolina has never had a tradition of tailgating," he said. "We have better football than them, and I think it's a great way to support our team." Alumni remain the most common tailgaters, but at the Rutgers game, many of them said the UNC parking-lot scene has a long way to go. "I became a Carolina fan at birth," said Donna Hales, who was celebrating with Sapp. "I don't like that you can walk through the parking lot and see Rutgers (fans)," she said."And although we are a state-funded school and any state-funded school should be dry, more people are learning to put (alcohol) in a cup when they're out here." Sue Dupree coordinated the party Hales and Sapp attended, and has been doing so for 10 to 12 years. She's trying to uphold a tradition for younger Tar Heels, she said. White said that he thinks more tailgating before big games - such as before the N.C. State game Nov. 18 - will add to the sports culture at UNC. "Our football fans are quick to jump ship," he said. "I'm going to go out there and support them every time." "I think that no matter what, there should be fans there to support the football team if they're 0-12 or 12-0." Contact the Features Editor at


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