Need a tailgating spot? No problem

OXFORD – University departments and related organizations are inventing new ways in the challenging economy to both raise revenues and serve their fans.
The University of Mississippi Alumni Association this year is offering tailgating setups for home football games in a greenspace on the grounds of The Inn at Ole Miss. Two clients experimented with the idea last fall, and the organization hopes to attract 10 this year.
“We’re not charging for spaces in the Grove; as far as I know, that’s a dead idea,” said Tim Walsh, executive director of alumni affairs, referring to a controversial proposal rejected this spring by the university’s Game Day committee.
“We thought some of our room sponsors might be interested in not fighting the crowds,” he said, referring to the guests who have reservations for each home games. “Ours is truly designed to be a convenience to our guests.”
A 10-by-10 tent, eight-foot table and eight chairs are included, and the Alumni Association will store, set up and take down the furnished items.
The service is available for $1,500, covering all seven 2010 home football games – less than some private enterprises charge for a similar setup in the Grove.
Andy Mullins, chief of staff to Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones, said a few departments charge for parking on game days, but no others charge for tailgate spaces around their buildings.
The university’s Game Day Committee this spring rejected a proposal to charge for reserved tent spaces in The Grove and The Circle.
At Mississippi State University, the Event Services department has been providing game day picnic setups for several seasons on the west lawn near The Junction.
“We’ve been doing it probably at least five years,” said Vanessa Collier, events coordinator with the department. “People are calling me about it every day.”
Reserved for the entire seven-game home season, 20-by-20 tents at MSU rent for $650 per game with four tables and 20 chairs. This year, 10-by-10 canopies are available for the season at $175 per game by Bost Auditorium or the MSU Welcome Center, furnished with one table.
Most of the clients for tailgating setups, Collier said, have social rather than commercial interests.
“It’s different families that go in together,” she said.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal