By Caleb Vierkant
As another semester at Texas A&M University draws near, so does a Fightin’ Texas Aggie football season. This means college football traditions such as tailgating, singing the War Hymn, and cheering for the Aggies. It also leads to some less loved traditions of Texas A&M football such as searching for parking, waiting in long lines to enter the stadium, and checking bags at the gate. There are important things to know about the coming season to help ensure game day goes as smoothly as possible.
New “Clear Bag” Policy
The biggest change to this coming season is a new policy regarding what kind of bags can be carried into games. Beginning this August for all sports, fans will only be allowed to carry clear bags into venues. One clear bag up to 12 inches or a resealable, clear gallon bag are the largest sizes allowed. Only one bag may be carried in per person. Exceptions to this rule will be made for medically necessary items and small clutch bags the size of a hand.
Backpacks, duffle bags, purses, and camera bags are some of the now-banned bags. Anyone attempting to enter a sports venue with a non-clear bag will be asked to leave and return with the proper one. Clear bags will be available to purchase in the Memorial Student Center.
The purpose of this new policy is to improve both safety and efficiency. Since all bags are checked before entering a game, the clear bag policy is meant to expedite this process. The limit on the bag size is meant to also ensure safety of the fans, so everyone can have a better game day. This policy is similar to one adopted by several other colleges as well as the NFL. The list of items fans are prohibited from bringing into games (snacks, tobacco, and firearms, to name a few) remains the same.
“We are being proactive in enhancing the safety of our venues and expediting the security screening process in adopting a clear bag policy that several colleges, the NFL, and other sports and entertainment venues have already implemented,” says Mike Caruso, associate athletics director for game operations, in an article about the policy on 12thman.com. “Many of our fans are familiar with the clear bags, as we play football in AT&T Stadium at Arlington each year and also played at NRG Stadium in Houston and Nissan Stadium in Nashville last season.”
Clear backpacks will be allowed, as long as they are no larger than 12 inches. Items such as cameras, binoculars, and phones will also be allowed as long as they are carried in a pocket or can fit in a clear bag. For more information about the new policy visit http://12thman.com/news/2016/6/14/beclear.aspx.
Tailgating in Aggieland can be just as fun and memorable as the actual football game itself. Food, drinks, friends, and televisions broadcasting the game provide a great atmosphere for fans. However, there are some regulations tailgaters must abide by to ensure everything goes smoothly.
Aside from obeying all state and federal laws about alcohol consumption, certain areas around campus are reserved for fans, recognized student organizations, and university departments. Each of these specific sites can have their own rules and regulations, so tailgaters should review them at 12thman.com to make sure no regulations are broken.
Tailgating is not permitted at Texas A&M’s golf course, inside any parking garages, on the lawn of the MSC or the Bonfire Memorial, and at a few other locations. The university also asks that people keep a respectful distance from all campus statues and memorials.
Unless otherwise designated, site set-up may begin no earlier than noon on “set-up day,” the day prior to the game. Claiming tailgate areas prior to noon on “set-up day” is prohibited. Guests may not camp out or loiter prior to 6 a.m. the day before the game. Overnight occupancy of tailgating areas is also prohibited. Tailgating may begin as early as 7 a.m. on game day, but the area must be cleaned up, cleared out, and empty by midnight that same night.
These regulations are meant to ensure the safety of all participants and to keep game days as free of headaches and confusion as possible. The university wants tailgaters to have fun, but to also be safe as well as respectful of the campus. To review other rules, visit www.12thman.com.
Parking and Busing Information
With a student body reaching more than 60,000 students and only 37,300 parking spaces on campus, according to transport.tamu.edu, parking can sometimes be an issue. The thousands of fans who come into town for game days only compound this problem. Texas A&M’s athletics website, 12thman.com, has maps and designated game day parking spots listed to help ease this issue.
The Aggie Spirit Buses, the mode of transport used by many students, are also available for anyone on game day. Buses operate nearly continuously for two hours before the game and an hour and a half after. The shuttles also go to the city of Bryan. They stop on Regent Street across from the Clara B. Mounce Public Library. Parking in Bryan is free in surrounding city and county lots, or the parking garage near the bus stop can be used for a fee of $10. More information about the shuttle system can be found on the 12th Man website, as well as the Transportation Services website.
Where to Find More Information
More information can be found on Texas A&M’s athletics website at www.12thman.com. There are also apps, “12th Man: Texas A&M Athletics” and “Destination Aggieland,” available for iOS and Android phones. Important information, tickets, breakdowns of the game and individual players, real-time traffic updates, shuttle routes, and much more can be found through the apps.