A policy allowing students and community members to have alcoholic beverages while tailgating is now in effect for designated parking lots at the Superior Dome and Barry Events Center.
Tailgating is, and always has been, allowed anywhere in the Recreation and Sports Complex area for up to three hours before and one hour after a sporting event. Now, tailgaters, age 21 and older, will be permitted to bring alcohol with them to lot 55, east of the Superior Dome’s back entrance, and lot 58, east of the Berry Events Center.
“Northern has always allowed tailgating in conjunction with its athletic events; however, we’ve always had a policy of no alcohol on the property without a license,” said Cindy Paavola, director of communications at NMU. “That was confusing to people, especially those not from the area. We wanted to make the policy a lot clearer to our fans and to opposing fans.”
The policy prohibits kegs, drinking games and devices, glass containers, mass common alcohol containers, open-flame fires and pets. Public Safety will be randomly checking the tailgaters’ identification to ensure that Michigan law regarding the possession, consumption and distribution of alcohol is enforced.
“One of the things clearly explained in the policy is that you must have identification to prove your age,” said Paavola. “Northern supports the idea of fans and community members getting together and getting excited about the games in a tailgating situation, but we expect them to do it in a legal fashion if alcohol is going to be used.”
She said alcohol use is not a necessary component of tailgating, but the school is now making it easier for those who wish to include it in their experience. She added that there will be plenty of room for fans who do not wish to be near the tailgaters consuming alcohol.
“For families or people who don’t want to be around people who are drinking alcohol, they will know where the designated areas are, so they can find a place as far away from them as necessary,” Paavola said.
Allowing tailgaters to bring alcohol with them could help to boost the number of people attending sporting events, said Tyler Campbell, sophomore industrial maintenance major.
“I think it’s good because it will be more fun and you can enjoy yourself a lot more,” he said. “They should sell beer at the game now, too.”
Not everyone thought the policy was necessarily a good thing. Joe Heilala, senior English major, said he thought the policy might be a positive change, but the possibility of underage drinking could be a potential problem.
“How can you tell someone is 21 without checking IDs? The campus police would have to check every single ID to make sure that there are no minors drinking,” Heilala said.
Alcohol use at sporting events could be a potentially dangerous idea, according to Jaime Anderson, senior criminal justice major, who said she does not approve of the policy.
“I think it’s actually a bad idea,” Anderson said. “It encourages more of a party atmosphere which could lead, depending on who wins the game, to more violence.”
She also expressed concern over the possibility of sports enthusiasts drinking during the game and driving home afterwards.
The policy, which was approved on Sept. 10, will go into effect by Saturday, Oct. 4, in time for NMU’s homecoming football game.