Devoted tailgaters speak out

William Hill (left) and Matthew Ellis tailgating outside of Bragg Memorial Stadium. Photo courtesy: Jarvis Coleman

Recent adjustments to tailgating at FAMU football games have elicited conflicting reactions from devoted fans and spectators.

Local residents William Hill and Matthew Ellis, who have supported FAMU for a long time, have seen the tailgating scene change over the past 40 years. The ambience has changed since they closed that route and removed the parking, Hill said. Ellis agreed, pointing out that “football is all about tailgating” for many people. They expressed skepticism on the most recent adjustments’ direction, with Hill saying, “I don’t know what they’re trying to do, but it’s not working. Allow the public to gather and have fun.”

Ricky White, a seasoned tailgater who went to Saturday’s game with friends and family, admitted that it was a little more frantic and congested than in prior years.

“It does not seem like a true tailgating experience,” he said.

But White acknowledged that there was a learning curve and added, “There’s always room to grow. All of it is trial and error. We expect flaws when you’re initially trying something out,” he said, remaining upbeat. “I only wish they could fix it. They’ve invested too much to just change it after one game, so I expect them to continue improving.”

Tyres Williams, a FAMU grad, viewed the modifications as a useful step.

“I was raised here,” he said. “It has the same feeling. Things aren’t too crowded because they’re only blocking the roads to help with traffic direction.” Overall, Williams was pleased, but he said, “They’re handling it pretty well, but there is always room for improvement.”

Wasaun Augustine, a senior criminal justice major with a military science minor, valued the tailgating experience’s organized framework. “Everything seems more organized and enclosed,” he said. “Since last year, there have been advances.”

The advantages of these adjustments were emphasized by Augustine, who is an ROTC member as well.

“It makes me feel good, it makes it easier for me to work security with ROTC, and it makes it easier on the whole campus,” he said.

The evolving tailgating experience at FAMU football games has generated a range of opinions among attendees. While some long-time supporters miss the nostalgic charm of the past, others see the changes as necessary improvements. As FAMU continues to adapt and refine its approach, the tailgating experience remains an integral part of the game-day experience, and opinions are sure to evolve alongside it.