I have held off on this post for the first couple of weeks, because I wanted to try and get the full effect of tailgating from around the stadium. Admittedly, I have not been everywhere I wanted to go yet, specifically on the water, but I have seen enough to give what I think is a proper report on the tailgating experiences at McLane Stadium.
We'll start with what I know best and that is the student tailgating section. Tucked away on a plot of land between the law school and the Simpson Athletic Center is where student tailgating takes place. This is where all of the different organizations, both green and non-greek, pay either for the season or by individual game to tailgate in a location provided by student activities. It is a very strict alcohol and tobacco free zone. The plots for each organization are 20'X20' and are set in groups of four centered around a small central tower that has both electric and coaxial ports for the organizations to share. The coaxial ports, however, will not be in operation this season, so TVs are not an option. Well, unless someone brought a personal hotspot and and brought their AppleTV out, but I have yet to convince that select few group of people. The entire site has a few trees on it and has good views of McLane Stadium despite the fact that is barely viewable from the main pedestrian bridge to tree cover on the edge of the area.
My initial view of the student tailgating site was rather negative, to be honest. Unless you are coming from the direction of the Ferrell Center down the river towards the stadium, you would barely even know that student tailgating exists. Personally, I think it would have been really cool to have student tailgating along the path that leads from University Parks to the main bridge. It would create an almost Boulevard-like feeling to the tailgating atmosphere, like SMU. It would also be a great way for those in organizations to get to hang out with, meet and talk to those that are not in organizations. Granted, and this is admittedly a cynic's point of view, organizations are kind of quarantined off from everything else seeing as that area is gated and has security at entrances and exits.
Attendance at student tailgate is dreadfully low. The two main reasons are probably, for one, the whole strict no alcohol thing, but also just because of where the location is. There are so many other great locations to tailgate that I can understand why people do not show up, but, with that being said, there are a lot of people that put forth a lot of effort to try and make the best out of the situation at hand. Especially this past weekend when said situation was wind and rain while trying to get everything set up. The situations there are not always idea, but those that go try and make the most out of it.
STADIUM SIDE OF THE RIVER
The stadium side of the river has a beautiful tailgate area. I've biked and ran by it a few times, but was finally able to walk through it around 9 on Saturday. I got to see everyone setting up/enjoying their setup and watching College Game Day waiting for the Shawn Oakman piece in the comfort of their covered tents. The biggest problem I saw had to do with the people that keep their tents set up throughout the season in their tailgate space. Due to the fact that Baylor has not been home in a month plus, and the Waco area has had some interesting storms lately, there was some minor repairs that had to be made. There was a specific group I felt bad for that had a really nice 20'x20' high peak tent, but so much water had collected on it that it had caved in just like the Minnesota Vikings old Stadium, (Specifically, about 14 seconds in to this video is how it looked) and were to trying to resurrect it by using some signs to try and push up on the tent and get all that water off. I did not stay around to see if they succeeded, but I really hope they did.
The whole area is very nice. You come off the main bridge, hang a right and follow the bricks over a smaller bridge that leads to you to the old turf of Floyd Casey Stadium. During Traditions Rally certain fraternities got to tailgate right near Floyd Casey's old turf, and I could tell that this was going to be something that people were really going to enjoy. One of the things that surprised me on Saturday was just how many RVs were tailgating. They were towards the back of the tailgating area along the river toward the new track stadium, and they just seemed to keep going on and on. I wish I could have hung out in this whole area, but I had some things I had to attend to. It looked like a whole lot of fun and I cannot wait to spend more time there next game and the all of the games to follow.
Lastly, sailgating is awesome, y'all. The first game there was a fleet of boats cruising up and down the Brazos even before I got there, which is about seven hours prior to game time. The rain on Saturday morning seemed to the slow the sailgaters down a bit, and understandably so, but as the rain came to a stop more and more boats occupied the Brazos and Briles Bay, which, by the way, has a brand new fountain right near the docks! It is a really nice touch. Also, there is one boat I always look for come game day and a certain flag as well. That, my fellow ODB'ers, is the Baylor Bearmada, and I am never disappointed, because they have the nicest setup of any tailgate/sailgate I have seen.