Student tailgating changes, result of new football facility

Set to be completed in 2023, the $32.5 million-dollar new football training facility features an outdoor and indoor practice field. This state of the art facility will allow the team to operate smoothly throughout the year. (Kendall Spencer | Collegian Media Group)

As a result of the new football indoor practice facility located east of Bill Snyder Family Stadium, a grassy area popular for student tailgating has been paved over. Replacing the grass lot are individual, reserved parking stalls. Ben Currotto, senior in organizational management and the social chair for Beta Sigma Psi fraternity, expressed his frustration with the mounting costs that came with the construction.

“Now you actually have to pay for your parking spot on top of iCAT,” Curotto said. 

The monetary burden is not the only issue students are anticipating. Curotto said he fears student turnout will decrease dramatically compared to years prior.

“We’re not going to see a lot of the community that we had last year,” Curotto said. “Obviously people aren’t going to pay an extraordinary amount of money just to have a tailgate.” 

Many members of his fraternity are also worried, Curotto said.

“They’re annoyed, just like everyone else is,” Curotto said. “Every other chapter is annoyed, too. It was just the perfect space.”

Taylor Braet, the Director of Recruiting for Kansas State football, said the new training facility improves the overall aesthetic of the East side stadium. It is supposed to modernize the look of the area, Braet said. 

“That’s just the world of college athletics,” Braet said. “We’re always evolving, we’re always building.”

Braet said he recognizes the new construction is inconvenient but believes it won’t be as bad as students think.

“I know losing parking wasn’t the most ideal thing, but I think they made up for it,” Braet said. “There are a lot of schools that are landlocked that don’t even really have tailgating.”

Braet said K-State students have many privileges other schools don’t offer their students. 

“I think student tailgating will still be awesome,” Braet said. “I think students are going to show. They came to school for this. They came to school to be a part of the football tradition, to feel like they’re a part of the team. They’ve got the best seats in the house. Not many other schools in the country let kids sit right on the 50-yard line.”

Braet said he hopes students don’t skip out on the football experience just because of a cosmetic change to the parking lot.

“Come and support your team,” Braet said. “You only get to go to college for a short amount of time, so participate and be a part of it. Carry on those traditions. Obviously, game day here is special because of the students.”

Some students are wary of what adjustments to the space might mean for the tailgating experience. While pavement might mean less mud, some, like Makaila Astle, junior in kinesiology, are worried about the impact of these alterations.

“It’s going to be on concrete, which is going to be really weird,” Astle said. “I really liked it on the grass. I think it’ll still be super fun, just a little inconvenient for the students.”

Nevertheless, Astle said she maintains a positive outlook as football season approaches.

“Go with your friends,” Astle said. “Everyone’s welcoming. You’re going to meet so many people. Be smart and be safe.”

However, other students, like Curotto, are still skeptical of what the coming season will look like. 

“Good luck getting a spot, honestly,” Curotto said.