ETSU’s tailgate for the football season opener is on Sept. 1. This great American pastime can last the entire day.
Beginning at 8 a.m., ETSU will start welcoming tailgaters for the Buccaneers’ season opener versus Mars Hill University at 7:30 p.m. Fans who attend the event this year will be treated to live music from local bands, 7 Mile Mushroom and Sterling Springs, on the Lot No. 21 stage from 2:30 to 5 p.m. In addition to the music, student organizations will now be tailgating in Lot No. 21 as well, a change from previous tailgates.
The event is part of a massive undertaking by event organizers at ETSU to motivate everyone to come out and support the team this year.
“Our goal is to do everything we can to provide a fantastic game day experience for people, and that starts from the minute they pull onto our campus until they leave,” said Matt McGahey, assistant athletic director for external relations.
The tailgate, which is an all-day event, will be going strong when the team starts their pre-game “Buc Walk” at 5:15 p.m. The Buc Walk is a tradition in which the football team walks from the Mini Dome to the football stadium led by the ETSU band and cheerleaders, providing fans a chance to see and support the team before they take the field. The Buc Walk, and tailgate in general, are big motivators for the football team.
“Anyone who wants to win and be competitive wants to play in front of great and passionate crowds, and I think ETSU has the best fan base — not only in the Southern Conference but across the FCS,” said McGahey.
There’s also an increased incentive for the school and organizers this year to not only out-do what they have done in previous years, but also to give first-year head coach Randy Sanders a warm welcome.
Organizers and staff feel that great game day and fan experiences are a critical part to fielding a winning football team. Game day tailgates are a way to encourage more fans and students to attend the games. Of course, ETSU Football has sold out their season home opener in every year since they returned in the 2015 season. The sellout streak is expected to continue this year, according to McGahey.
“I would expect nothing different this year,” McGahey said in regards to the sellout streak. “I’d encourage our students to get their tickets. We’ll have some tickets for distribution in the CPA and online, but bottom-line, we’re not going to turn a student away. They can simply show their student ID at the gate and come right in.”
William B. Greene Jr. Stadium has a capacity of just under 7,700 people, but last year the team averaged over 8,000 fans per game. This is thanks in part to the sale of standing-room only tickets, according to McGahey.
If you are coming to the tailgate though, come early and bring your friends. Tailgate lots will always open at 8 a.m. on game days, and the Buc Walk will take place 2 hours and 15 minutes before kickoff.
“The goal is to keep things fresh throughout the year,” said McGahey. “We really encourage everyone to come out and be a part of it, and if you’re a student, just know that everything we do, we’re doing it for the students.”
Contributed by Jonathan Roberts