Downtown gives tailgaters the boot

Parking lot managers near the Metrodome are putting a stop to tailgating.

by Andy Mannix

A year ago at this time, the parking lot next to the Old Spaghetti Factory swarmed with maroon and gold tailgaters before every Gophers home game.

This year, when fans arrived to tailgate before the second game, they were told by security they had to leave.

“We didn’t really pay any attention to them,” said Zach Millis, an economics junior and avid tailgater. “But then they came back and said we have a half hour before the cops come.”

The Old Spaghetti Factory lot is just one of several parking lots around the Metrodome that have put the kibosh on football tailgating festivities due to ongoing problems with rowdy Gophers tailgaters.

Aaron Stanaway, general manager of the Old Spaghetti Factory, said that Gopher tailgater’s behavior – including littering, harassing customers and urinating on employee’s cars – has been an issue for years.

After the problems continued this season, Stanaway brought them to the attention of the lot’s owners, who decided to restrict tailgating, Stanaway said.

“There were a lot of small catalysts,” he said. “And it just was not worth it.”

This was not the only lot that made this decision. Parking lots all over the area now post “No Tailgating” signs before every Gopher game.

Parking lot attendant Brian Wildner works at a lot across from the Mill City Museum which also decided to embargo Gopher tailgating.

The decision came after several area residents complained about tailgaters’ unruly behavior, Wildner said.

Wildner said littering and public urination had been big issues. He has even witnessed occasional car fires, he said.

The lot initially tried to work with tailgaters by giving everyone garbage bags when

they entered to reduce litter, but it yielded little success, Wildner said.

“Sometimes after the game we would have people here for five or six hours cleaning,” he said.

Brady Mielke, a University student and tailgater, said it’s unfair for parking lots to ban tailgating. He has not had any problems while tailgating and has never witnessed any destructive behavior, he said.

Mielke was among the hundreds of tailgaters who flocked Saturday to a parking lot next to Sawatdee before the game. Many said they have been forced out of two or three lots in the past year.

Millis said he tailgates every weekend because it is an intricate element in University athletics.

“The talent of our players is huge but when you have a good crowd cheering you on, you can’t beat that,” Millis said. “I think that the morale

of the whole school is based upon having a good time before the game.”

Parking lot manager Steve Meyer said he hasn’t had problems so far this year with tailgaters, and they would like to continue to allow the tradition.

“We’re going to try to make this work,” Meyer said. “And as long as people stay under control, we’re going to allow tailgating.”

Stanaway said although tailgating has had a negative impact on the community in the past, there is still a place for it and the tradition should not halt. The issue is not with tailgating itself, but with tailgaters being inconsiderate, he said.

“Tailgaters need to have respect for other people in the area,” Stanaway said.