A designated student tailgating and picnic area, reserved grass parking, and approximately 500 free parking spaces in the PS1 parking structure highlight new student and fan friendly additions for 2010 football game days, Western Kentucky University announced today. The improvements resulted from multiple meetings between the WKU athletics department, student affairs, housing and residence life, parking and transportation, and facilities management. A detailed map of all game day picnic, tailgating and parking areas is available on wkusports.com.
"After receiving valuable feedback from various student organizations, faculty, season ticket holders, Hilltopper Athletic Foundation members, corporate partners and the Bowling Green community, we will improve many aspects related to football game days," said Director of Athletics Dr. Wood Selig. "Our students will now have a large area designated entirely for them to tailgate and picnic from, we will create two grass areas for reserved parking and tailgating, and our campus will feature over 4,500 free paved parking spaces for fans with the addition of free parking in the PS1 structure. We will now have over 25 areas on campus designated specifically for tailgating and picnicking, all located less than half a mile from Houchens Industries - L.T. Smith Stadium. This all results in a truly unique arrangement for game days, and the increased fan friendly environment will be a tremendous benefit to all Topper fans."
2010 TAILGATING AND PARKING FEATURES
- A large on campus area adjacent to College Heights Boulevard will be reserved as a student tailgating and picnic area. Students will participate in a competition to name this area, and the WKU administration will work with students to provide musical entertainment for each game. Students may begin parking in this area at 6:00 p.m. on Friday on a first come-first serve basis.
- Fans will now be able to park and tailgate on two separate grass areas in close proximity to Houchens Industries - L.T. Smith Stadium. These lots will contain over 200 parking spots, will cost $100 for the entire season, and will be available to the general public and WKU students. Details on reserving these spaces will be announced at a later date.
- The Parking Structure 1 Garage located on the north side of Diddle Arena, which previously allowed entry only for paying customers, will now be admissible on game day free of charge. This will add approximately 500 additional free parking spaces and now results in over 4,500 free paved parking spaces available throughout campus for fans attending football games.
- The WKU campus now offers over 25 areas designated specifically for tailgating and picnicking, all located less than half a mile from Houchens Industries - L.T. Smith Stadium.
- Those utilizing the lawns on game day may set up tents as early as 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. Pop up tents, grills, and coolers are permissible. Loading and unloading zones are located throughout campus and available on a temporary basis for those wishing to unload items and tailgate on the lawns.
"I applaud WKU for these new tailgating and parking options," said Hilltopper Athletic Foundation President Greg Stivers. "I'm sure a lot of our members will want to purchase the reserved parking spots on the grass, as this is a great benefit. It is also extremely fair to provide additional free parking so close to the stadium for fans that do not have access to the reserved lots. These changes and additions should certainly help continue to grow the game day atmosphere for WKU football."
WKU's marketing staff had multiple meetings with the Student Government Association, NPHC (National Pan-Hellenic Conference), IFC (Interfraternity Council), Panhellenic Association and Presidents Roundtable. The extensive dialogue results in many positive improvements to the overall student experience.
"I know that this change will better our tailgating experience on the Hill," said SGA President Kevin T. Smiley. "University officials were receptive of our concerns, and we know this new tailgating policy will be much more student friendly. It is especially exciting to see the creation of a 'Student Tailgating Area,' as this space will be the heart of the pregame experience and can become a tradition for years to come. Students can be excited for this big step forward with the new policy and what will be a great set of home games next year under Coach Taggart."
"The new tailgating policy is a welcomed change," said SGA President-Elect Colton Jessie. "I am glad to see that concerns of the students were received by the University, and I am excited about the new student section we will have to enjoy this coming fall season. I'm looking forward to working with the athletics department and getting some entertainment to perform at the Student Tailgating Area at home games next season. I encourage students to look at the new Tailgating map and see the areas that are now available. I think that this is an improvement to our current policy."
Standard game day features will also return. Topper Town, which features inflatables, a kids play area and activities for children of all ages, will open three hours prior to kickoff. The Topper Walk, featuring the entire football team's walk down the Avenue of Champions to Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium, begins two hours and 20 minutes prior to kickoff north of the Kentucky Museum at the newly designated student tailgating and picnic area.
WKU enters the 2010 season under the direction of Willie Taggart, who was named head coach on November 23. Taggart previously served as running backs coach at Stanford from 2007-09 and helped Toby Gerhart finish second in balloting for the Heisman Trophy and win the Doak Walker award given to the nation's top running back. Taggart worked as an assistant coach at WKU from 1999-2006 and served as co-offensive coordinator for WKU's 2002 I-AA National Championship team. A standout player at quarterback who set 11 school records for the Hilltoppers from 1995-98, Taggart is one of only four players in WKU's 91-year football history to have his jersey retired.