During the Sept. 12 Bulls football game against Kansas, the crowd at Raymond James Stadium outnumbered the crowd that later gathered for the Buccaneers game in arrests and ejections.
The USF Athletics Department, in conjunction with the Tampa Sports Authority (TSA) and organizations such as Student Government and the Student Bulls Club, announced plans to help limit the number of alcohol-related arrests and ejections.
“We huddled up with TSA — the company that runs Raymond James Stadium — and local law enforcement officials to brainstorm a way to make the USF experience better for everybody,” said USF Executive Associate Director of Athletics Bill McGillis.
McGillis said he thinks the new initiatives will help make USF games more enjoyable for all fans.
“We have the best fans in the country, I really believe that,” he said. “But there is a very small minority — and I mean very small minority — of fans that abuse alcohol and use excessive profanity, and they ruin the experience for everybody.”
On the outside
USF has set up several new policies to limit fans’ opportunities to abuse alcohol.
One rule limits the amount of time people can tailgate at the stadium before kickoff. Parking lots once opened five hours before kickoff, but was shortened to four hours.
The policy also affects all privately owned parking lots in the area surrounding Raymond James, which agreed to open in unison with the other lots.
“That was something the University suggested we do to stay consistent with our other events,” TSA Public Information Officer Barbara Casey said. “Our other events are four hours, and we were trying to get some consistency.”
Another policy will ban kegs and other large vessels containing alcoholic beverages from the parking lots.
“The final call was made by TSA because they own the property and the parking lots,” SG President Gregory Morgan said. “It’s really unfortunate that some of our fans act the way they do, but it’s not just the student body. I know we’re not innocent, but it’s all USF fans, not just students.”
Morgan also said that limiting the time people have to tailgate might have some negative affects in terms of alcohol abuse.
“I think TSA thinks limiting the amount of time people have to tailgate will help decrease the amount of alcohol being consumed and the rate it’s being reported as being consumed at,” he said. “One fear I had, however, was that we go from five hours of tailgating to four, and people drink in four hours what they used to drink in five.”
McGillis said there will be a greater security presence in parking lots to ensure that fans don’t take drinking to an extreme.
“This is in no way aimed at students directly — this policy is in place for USF fans in general,” he said.
On the inside
Inside the stadium, there are also new policies. Anyone buying alcohol from a concession stand will need to provide identification. The policy used to be to ask only people who looked under 30 years old for ID.
Fans who use excessive profanity, whether it is aimed at opposing fans, coaches or the officials on the field, will be asked to leave the stadium.
“There is a small group of fans that need to learn that they can’t sit there excessively dropping ‘F-bombs,'” McGillis said. “That type of attitude will not be tolerated because it ruins what is supposed to be a fun experience for everybody.”
To help enforce the new rules inside the stadium, there will be more law enforcement officers, including undercover officers, McGillis said.
Ticket policy gets more tweaks
The student ticket policy has also seen some changes after students were caught with forged tickets to the 100-level, McGillis said.
“There were some problems with 100-level seating for the Kansas game, and we are doing everything we can to avoid that in the future,” McGillis said. “Any student caught with a duplicated ticket will have their ticket revoked.”
Erik Book, the assistant athletic director for ticket operations, said students with 100-level tickets will now enter through Gate A. 200- and 300-level students will still enter through Gate B.