By Bill Swartz
Catching up with former classmates and fellow fans is as much part of the University of Washington football experience as watching the game itself. Dawg fans will see some fairly significant tailgating changes starting this Saturday.
‘The Zone’ east of Husky Stadium has been a popular gathering spot over the past five years -- often too popular. Depending on the weather and how close the score is at halftime, hundreds of fans tend to linger over a cold beverage, instead of returning to watch the third- quarter action.
After hearing from an advisory council and speaking directly with fans, the University and IMG Washington came up with some modifications.
“The Zone’ will be open business as usual pregame, but we’re also offering fans the opportunity to buy a premium experience in The Zone with a VIP tent,” explained UW Athletic Director Jen Cohen. “That will accommodate up to 500 people and be open the whole game. Other than that, we’re going to close ‘The Zone’ at halftime.”
Cohen told KOMO news the University will also monitor the number of fans leaving the stadium at halftime for the parking lots and evaluate how long it takes them to return to see the action. A third beer garden called the ‘Off Leash Porch’ has been set up near the east end of the stadium.
“So I would encourage all fans just to stay in Husky Stadium and get ready to rock the third quarter for all the guys who work so hard for the purple and gold,” Cohen emphasized.
If you’re not lucky enough to own a boat or RV for Husky tailgating, fear not, Cohen says there’s a new pre-function space between Montlake Boulevard and campus for ‘rail- gating’.
“So you can come off the light rail and purchase into a tailgating experience on Rainier Vista, ” said Cohen. “This is another initiative based on feedback from fans. We’ve got to try new things, adjust to give them a great experience, and we’ll see how it goes.”
No Husky tailgate party would be complete without having your radio or mobile device tuned into KOMO am 1000/ fm 97.7 for the best game day coverage.
Gaard Swanson starts Saturday’s festivities at noon with the KOMO Kickoff Show. Bob Rondeau, Damon Huard and Elise Woodward describe the action between #7 ranked Washington and Montana at 5 p.m.