This Saturday will mark the second home game for MSU football this season, and while there was an unusually large crowd last week for Montana State, this weekend will be the first sellout crowd of the year. With that large number of people comes the tradition of tailgating, and so we thought we would talk about some of our favorite spots. Right away, Derek and I disagreed over which spots would make the Final Four, and so I know that this choice is highly personal. We also had a long discussion over the boundaries of the locations. For instance, would "Around Spartan Stadium" be a location? Or would it be several, with "North Stadium Lot" and "South Stadium Lot" each deserving their own nomination because of their drastically different cultures?
Finally, we settled the arguments by me picking my Final Four and letting Derek have his say in the comments, and by dividing the areas around the Stadium into multiple spots. I've left off some major and traditional locations from the Final Four, such as Munn Field, South Stadium lot, the Library and Commuter Lot, but for what I believe are good reasons such as "you have to be somewhat close (sorry Commuter Lot)" and "you have to allow alcohol (sorry Munn Field)." So on to the choices...
North Stadium Lot
This is a smaller lot located in the shadow north of Spartan Stadium. If you don't have money to donate, you had better hope you know someone who does, or don't even consider trying to set up here. The regulars in this area are here every game, and each week has sort of a family reunion feel as it is often the same groups, year after year. Some benefits of setting up here besides that five minute stroll to your seat? The Alumni Association tailgate tent is nearby, along with the stage that traditionally hosted the Geriatric Six Plus One (and lately has held the radio pregame show or other music, if anything). The Spartan Marching Band comes by before and after each game playing "The Series" and you also get to witness the players walk to the stadium from Kellogg before the game.
Walter Adams Field
If you like the Spartan Marching Band, then this is the location for you! Tailgating is very limited as most of the field is utilized for band warmup and the pregame show. Best spots ring the outside of the field along West Circle Drive on the north and south. Regulars show up early and every week, but they mix with the Band Fans and Band Parents, who only show for the few years their child is performing. As the time gets closer to 10:30 (on days with a noon kick), the population explodes and your tailgate is treated to the best concert possible: One blasting the MSU Fight Song! One downer: The party dies when the band leaves about 50 minutes to kickoff, as all the parents follow their kids over to the stadium.
Lot 7 & Field bounded by Old Horticulture, Student Services, and Natural Science
This lot remained relatively unknown to me until recent years, but is actually a great spot. Relatively cheap to park (and no season pass required), it is filled with young alumni and families. Plenty of students walk through, but it is mostly just fun gatherings with hot dogs and beer. With no crazy distractions like a band hogging the open space, you are free to toss the football around, but watch out for the five year old running around your feet! It's low key, good ol' boy tailgating here.
If you like to drink, look no further. This is where the party is at, every week! It's true that the official student tailgating spot has mellowed some from recent years, but it is still the biggest and best location for students to gather and go crazy. While the drinking games were banned a few years back, ASMSU has done a good job of making sure that this area is student oriented, with loud music and food options. Parking is students only, but that doesn't stop their 50 closest friends from showing up with drinks to pass. Looking to have some Facebook photos posted that will keep you from getting that dream job? This is your place!
And the winner is... Lot 7
This is where my friends have been setting up since graduation, and it has really grown on me. There is enough space to toss around the football, just the right balance of drunk students (less then 10 at any given time within ear shot is perfect, sorry Tennis Courts), a short walk to the stadium and it doesn't require me to donate anything to park there. Getting out after the game is quick enough (sorry North Stadium Lot), and the party here can go right up to kickoff (sorry Walter Adams Field).