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Thread: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

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    Default Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    Somewhere between the ribs, chicken wings, hot dogs, hamburgers, beer, and E&J have we forgotten the real reason for it all? The football game. I have witnessed in recent football games at WSSU, especially homecoming, the game attendance has fallen. BGS at homecoming used to be standing room only. Now, it's bare 3/4th full with good weather. So my question or comment is how do we return to filling the stands and support our team, band, cheerleaders, and athletic department? For me, I am a season ticket holder and every home or away game, there is a group of us that gather in plenty of time before the game to be able to socialize, par-take, and get to our seats. I bring this up because we need to better support our students and it helps alot for recruiting. Is it just WSSU or do other schools have this problem, if this is a problem. Talk to me yall !!!

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    Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    I agree with you from the WSSU perspective as attendance continues to go down, especially for Homecoming. I also buy season tickets so I make it a point to go into the games and actually watch, I like to tailgate but my number one priority is to actually watch football.

    I know some from WSSU don't want to hear it, but I think HC pricing has gotten way out of hand. Game tickets were $35 last year and parking went up to $30 for the game. Add that to hotels raising their prices during that weekend and it makes for an expensive trip for people coming from out of town. The athletic department uses HC as a cash grab since general athletic donations aren't that great, so I understand the idea of the increased pricing. Also, it makes buying season tickets more appealing if you plan on going to a few home games during the season. However, I still think $35 is too high for a game day ticket. I feel like our homecoming experience is going the way of the CIAA tournament, a bunch of people coming to town for the party but forgetting about the actual game.

    A&T and JCSU are two schools that have the perfect setup. At both schools you have to have a game ticket to get into the tailgate area, and I know at JCSU you can go back and forth from the stadium to the tailgate area throughout the game. Also, look at the big classic games on the FCS level and in the SIAC. Those games have great tailgating and still have big numbers for attendance.

    Personally I am all for WSSU going the route of requiring game tickets to enter a "tailgate zone". The school could cutoff tailgating in the gravel lot, and only allow it in the South and West lots. Then cut off through traffic on Williamson and Diggs and allow additional tailgate spots on those streets to make up for the missed locations in the gravel lot. They could setup check points to confirm purchased tickets and it would also allow reentry to the game.

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    Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    It appears to me that some schools totally embrace tailgating as part of the total home game experience, while unfortunately some just seem to tolerate it and look at it as another way of making money. It's clear to see that the schools that embrace tailgating also tend to have fuller stadiums on a more consistent bases.

    In visiting games where the tailgating experience is vibrant and enthusiastic, I see a growing number of new and younger fans / students attracted and participating (and fuller stadiums). And at games where the tailgating is overly monitored with a less than vibrant feel, you see less younger fans, and tend to have older fans participating, with some eventually aging out, and consequently slowly deteriorating attendance numbers.

    I have found that In Division 1 games, the most enthusiastic atmosphere and enhanced tailgating experience in this region are at NC State, East Carolina, Clemson, Tennessee, West Virginia and VaTech games. The games with a more subdue low key atmosphere were at Wake Forest, UNC, UVA and Maryland. You can clearly see a correlation between the effects of having a healthy and enthusiastic tailgating format and consistent game attendance.

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    Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    Very interesting conversation, and I agree with you gentlemen on several points. Tailgating is very much a part of the "football" experience for many fans at every level of competition. The caveat or difference which occurs present day is a nuanced one, I think. Many fans, in my experience, absolutely love the atmosphere tailgating creates on game day, however, in HBCU environments poor on-field performances have soured fans resolve to actually watch the games. We are witnessing a generation of fans that have very short attention spans for things that don't absolutely excite them, and even shorter fuses for things that anger or frustrate them. Growing up, what excited me most about the HBCU experience was the "family" atmosphere created on game day, weather it was seeing the band or the cheerleaders but definitely the tailgating. It was an all-day affair, now, the lots only open a few hours before kickoff and close within an hour of two after the contest ends. The fun fans are having while tailgating now seems to trump their frustration from watching their teams play. I don't know how many times in the last five seasons at WSSU I've heard “man I can't watch this mess, or man, I'd rather stay at the tailgate".

    Legal, you're right, requiring a game ticket along with the tailgate is certainly one immediate solution. I believe that the Athletic administrators have to be more creative for home contests to keep fans coming. Sad, but unfortunately that seems to be where we are with regard to attendance. Treating Homecoming like its Christmas and charging adsorbent prices will continue to hurt the brand.

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    Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    It hurts the program when you got fans that go to the tailgate but won't buy a ticket and come to watch the game. I remember one game in particular several years ago when Central was having a bad season. There was more people it seem like in the parking lot than came in to the game and they were louder than the fans at the game. We went to a high school game last year and got there late. Couldn't find a parking space and had to walk about 1/4 of a mile to get there. There was a huge tailgate and I ask some man "Why aren't you inside supporting the warriors"? he said "the food is good, the beer is cold and we can see everything through the fence". I told him he was a cheapskate and should be ashame not supporting the school and players.

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    Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    UWG has an issue with tailgaters not entering the stadium too. I'm not sure what can be done about that since you enter the parking/tailgate area before the stadium itself. You can't see any of the game from outside the stadium and I like to think our level of play is pretty good most of the time.

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    Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    I've always been a fan of the overall comradery and atmosphere of tailgating prior to going in and seeing the game. However, It's been my observation that things are changing more and more in the actions with some of the younger generation of students and fans. At some schools, I've started to see more groups of students and fans who utilize the tailgating as excuses to shotgun multiple beers, getting as drunk (and high in some cases) as quickly as possible, and then staggering away with no intentions (or actual capability) of ever attending and enjoying the game. In some cases, there seems to be a growing blurred line between a complete throw-down party and pre-game tailgating. Believe me, I'm not a fan of over monitoring or policing the tailgating area, because that tends to distract from the intended atmosphere (which may include grilling, along with some cold adult beverages), but there has to be some kind of balance. You never want to see the actions of some groups gradually chase away the traditional type of tailgaters who helped make the tradition special to begin with.

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    Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    Reminds me of one year we went to North Greenville for a game. They had campus security riding around in golf cars making sure people behaved and didn't drink on their campus. I don't know what they did if they found someone with alcohol but I imagine how strict the school is, they made them leave. After all it is their private property so I think legally they could make people leave if they break their rules.

  9. Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    Tailgating is not the problem. The problem is the level of competition we play. I get scheduling is complicated but what HBCU has a winning tradition outside their conference? What HBCU is consistently competing for NCAA titles? Until winning on the big stage becomes the norm, then the tailgate is always going to be the biggest draw to a game.

    This is why I really don't get all that excited anymore when a team wins the CIAA title. The CIAA is ranked near the bottom as a conference in basketball and football. Until the conference starts making some noise is the tournament that matters then people will start not paying attention to the games but to the food.

    On that note, what Bowie did this past season was great for the conference as a whole. Let's build on that by scheduling tough OOC opponents. UVA Wise is not a tough OOC opponent.

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    Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    Quote Originally Posted by GoVSUTrojans View Post
    Tailgating is not the problem. The problem is the level of competition we play. I get scheduling is complicated but what HBCU has a winning tradition outside their conference? What HBCU is consistently competing for NCAA titles? Until winning on the big stage becomes the norm, then the tailgate is always going to be the biggest draw to a game.

    This is why I really don't get all that excited anymore when a team wins the CIAA title. The CIAA is ranked near the bottom as a conference in basketball and football. Until the conference starts making some noise is the tournament that matters then people will start not paying attention to the games but to the food.

    On that note, what Bowie did this past season was great for the conference as a whole. Let's build on that by scheduling tough OOC opponents. UVA Wise is not a tough OOC opponent.
    No HBCU has won a NCAA football championship since 1978; however, Central State won two NAIA championships in the early 90's. MEAC hadn't won a playoff game in forever prior to going the Celebration Bowl and the SWAC gave up on the FCS playoffs years ago. The CIAA has actually had more playoff success then the SIAC over the past decade as well. I say all that to say those schools still seem to have better game attendance with the same, or worse, level of success against OOC competition.

    Also, one playoff win for Bowie was good but you guys also won a playoff game in the not too distant past.

    Big problem for us CIAA schools is that many of us don't play our biggest rival and/or our biggest rival won't travel to us. The average HBCU fan unfortunately has no idea what their team's record is, or who the power teams are in D2 or FCS. Most fans want a fun game experience and for their team to beat their rival, and a lot go for the bands. There is a reason why VSU playing Norfolk State draws better then any other Norfolk State Conference game, because fans care about matchups regardless of records and divisions. Matchups like: VSU/ECSU v. Norfolk State; WSSU v. NC A&T/NCCU; SC State v. Benedict; Bowie v. Morgan State; Hampton v. VUU (which is back next year); Tuskegee v. Bama State/Bama A&M; etc. are games that fans show up to because they like the matchups and the history regardless of classification. The CIAA just doesn't have that many rivalries right now that move the dial for the average fan. I.E. at WSSU we are still trying to figure out who our rival is since we don't play NCCU and/or A&T on a regular basis anymore.

    Don't get me wrong I love seeing our schools get a challenge from non HBCU OOC schools, but at the end of the day a school's AD also has to try and schedule games that will sell tickets.

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    Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    Winning or losing doesn't always impact some school's attendance or tailgating.

    A couple of years ago I went to a 3-9 East Carolina (some of their losses were pretty bad) tailgating experience and game afterwards, and both were pretty much packed with a lot of younger fans in attendance, and the same holds true for many other schools. That's not always the case with some schools where unfortunately, it appears as though a lot of the younger fans believe they are now way to cool to enjoy or participate in a long time tradition which is also attended by their elders. To which I say it's their freaking loss! Again, you can tell where some schools actively promote tailgating with the involvement of the school's Alumni, band (including their Drum Line), players and coaches pregame walk through, fraternity and sorority competitions, and involvement pep clubs & cheerleaders, while some other schools act as though they don't really care if it fades away.

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    Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    You all make valid points. I started this thread to get the conversation going for all the alum of our HBCU's to get more fans in the seats. Most schools rely on the revenue from football and basketball(primarily) to keep the programs operating. The message also being how the dots are connected. Let's start with athletes. Most talented athletes want to attend schools that both have great facilities and attendance at games. In order to have great facilities you have to have revenue. Most revenue is generated from attendance to games. Attendance to games is based on the performance of the teams. Teams performance is based on the level of talent recruited and signed. Recruiting of athletes is based on facilities. Now we are right back where we started. This is why we need to not let tailgating hurt us from getting people in the seats. Everyone knows that when any CIAA school play WSSU it is there homecoming and the attendance is usually doubled. However, we need to express upon all about doing both tailgating and attending the games in person(taking a seat). The same problem exist at the CIAA basketball tournament. People come to party and not to attend the games. We have to do better. Thanks for the excellent input all.

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    Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Eagle74 View Post
    Winning or losing doesn't always impact some school's attendance or tailgating.

    A couple of years ago I went to a 3-9 East Carolina (some of their losses were pretty bad) tailgating experience and game afterwards, and both were pretty much packed with a lot of younger fans in attendance, and the same holds true for many other schools. That's not always the case with some schools where unfortunately, it appears as though a lot of the younger fans believe they are now way to cool to enjoy or participate in a long time tradition which is also attended by their elders. To which I say it's their freaking loss! Again, you can tell where some schools actively promote tailgating with the involvement of the school's Alumni, band (including their Drum Line), players and coaches pregame walk through, fraternity and sorority competitions, and involvement pep clubs & cheerleaders, while some other schools act as though they don't really care if it fades away.
    Agree 100%. Every school has their fair weather fans, but schools that have a strong fan base and good game day experience keep the fans coming even in the down years.

    Perfect example from the D2 level, the five highest attended games this past season were SIAC conference matchups and not a single team from the conference made the playoffs. Fans came for the experience and to cheer on their teams regardless of records. (http://stats.ncaa.org/season_divisio...dance_sg_highs)

  14. Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Eagle74 View Post
    Winning or losing doesn't always impact some school's attendance or tailgating.

    A couple of years ago I went to a 3-9 East Carolina (some of their losses were pretty bad) tailgating experience and game afterwards, and both were pretty much packed with a lot of younger fans in attendance, and the same holds true for many other schools. That's not always the case with some schools where unfortunately, it appears as though a lot of the younger fans believe they are now way to cool to enjoy or participate in a long time tradition which is also attended by their elders. To which I say it's their freaking loss! Again, you can tell where some schools actively promote tailgating with the involvement of the school's Alumni, band (including their Drum Line), players and coaches pregame walk through, fraternity and sorority competitions, and involvement pep clubs & cheerleaders, while some other schools act as though they don't really care if it fades away.
    ECU is not a small school. If 25% of undergrads attend the game you have 6,000 people. You have to account for the school size.

  15. Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    Quote Originally Posted by LegalRam View Post
    No HBCU has won a NCAA football championship since 1978; however, Central State won two NAIA championships in the early 90's. MEAC hadn't won a playoff game in forever prior to going the Celebration Bowl and the SWAC gave up on the FCS playoffs years ago. The CIAA has actually had more playoff success then the SIAC over the past decade as well. I say all that to say those schools still seem to have better game attendance with the same, or worse, level of success against OOC competition.

    Also, one playoff win for Bowie was good but you guys also won a playoff game in the not too distant past.

    Big problem for us CIAA schools is that many of us don't play our biggest rival and/or our biggest rival won't travel to us. The average HBCU fan unfortunately has no idea what their team's record is, or who the power teams are in D2 or FCS. Most fans want a fun game experience and for their team to beat their rival, and a lot go for the bands. There is a reason why VSU playing Norfolk State draws better then any other Norfolk State Conference game, because fans care about matchups regardless of records and divisions. Matchups like: VSU/ECSU v. Norfolk State; WSSU v. NC A&T/NCCU; SC State v. Benedict; Bowie v. Morgan State; Hampton v. VUU (which is back next year); Tuskegee v. Bama State/Bama A&M; etc. are games that fans show up to because they like the matchups and the history regardless of classification. The CIAA just doesn't have that many rivalries right now that move the dial for the average fan. I.E. at WSSU we are still trying to figure out who our rival is since we don't play NCCU and/or A&T on a regular basis anymore.

    Don't get me wrong I love seeing our schools get a challenge from non HBCU OOC schools, but at the end of the day a school's AD also has to try and schedule games that will sell tickets.
    I get your point but people who only attend rivalry games are not fans in my opinion. They are there just to socialize and make it into a small homecoming. It frustrates me because on any other weekend you will not see those same people. If we are going to get people to the games consistently I believe you are going to have to up the level of competition and win. CIAA, SIAC and the MEAC are not your cream of the crop conferences. We are not competing in the ACC. So most people that are not alum and/or HBCU fans are not going to waste their time following us. Period.

    If you put a HBCU in a Power 5 conference and that HBCU is competing, you will see they will start attracting fans who did not even attend the school. If you just rely on alum to support your games then you will not get high attendance. For example, the NC/Duke game. People that just live in NC went to that game. Did not attend either school. Why? Because they wanted to see future NBA players play against one another.

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    Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    A very good discussion to have. Just to note, when A&T decided it was going to require a game ticket to get into the tailgating area people were up in arms. They did it anyway. I have not heard if it is still that way but there attendance did not drop as a result. Maybe that is where the smaller schools, that can, should start. The school should get something for people coming onto its property to enjoy themselves, even if the fee to get into the tailgating area is less than the ticket price. Just a thought.

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    Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    Quote Originally Posted by OGramball3r View Post
    A very good discussion to have. Just to note, when A&T decided it was going to require a game ticket to get into the tailgating area people were up in arms. They did it anyway. I have not heard if it is still that way but there attendance did not drop as a result. Maybe that is where the smaller schools, that can, should start. The school should get something for people coming onto its property to enjoy themselves, even if the fee to get into the tailgating area is less than the ticket price. Just a thought.
    I just had this conversation with the managing editor of the Undefeated who is from Winston Salem and his dad coached at WSSU, John Miller. At WSSU there are three parking lots used primarily for football, The one next to the National Guard Armory across the street(east), the lot between BGS and Skyline(West) and the south lot used for season ticket parking. WSSU can use the east lot for tailgating only at say 50.00 and west lot 35.00 with game ticket. Of course south lot is free because of season ticket so no charge for tailgating. As I stated before the objective is to get more people in the seats at games.See my previous post(#12) above on how the dots are connected. This way by charging for tailgating space the athletic department will make some revenue.

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    Default Re: Tailgate:Is It Hurting HBCU Football(Maybe?)

    Quote Originally Posted by GoVSUTrojans View Post
    ECU is not a small school. If 25% of undergrads attend the game you have 6,000 people. You have to account for the school size.
    The ECU game I attended had a little over 50,000 in attendance, and ECU's enrollment was around 28,000.

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