NOT SAME OLD TAILGATING: ISU unveils new football pregame festivities
Tailgating for Idaho State University’s football games could look a lot different this season, if last Friday’s pregame event was any indication.
The number of people in attendance and the energy surrounding them was increased from previous years, according to many who attended the event.
“I walked around Holt Arena probably two or three times and talked to all the tailgaters, and everyone was so welcoming and so excited,” said Pauline Thiros, ISU’s interim athletic director. “I thought the entire environment was elevated.”
During Friday’s pregame event, extra tailgate space was added on the south side of the arena in the practice field, which Thiros said was done in an effort to engage more people.
Additionally, five food trucks were parked around the arena, and Portneuf Valley Brewery provided beer and wine for spectators who were of age.
ISU football coach Rob Phenicie explained the team has a tradition of taking a “Bengal walk” through campus before entering Holt Arena on game days, and the route has been changed to pass through the new tailgate event.
Phenicie said he appreciates the efforts of everyone involved in planning the event.
”It was really cool the way that they had that all set up,” Phenicie said. “It gives us what it should be — a big-time feel — because that’s what we are. We’re a big-time program, and that’s how we want to project ourselves.
Thiros said there may also be more changes coming in the future, depending on what is possible and probable for the university and the community.
“Efforts are ongoing to try to bring the community whatever it would like to see happening in terms of pregame events,” she said. “I think people are very, very excited about Bengal athletics, and it’s always great to see something new.”
ISU’s President Kevin Satterlee said the university wanted to provide new ways for “meaningful engagement” between ISU and the Pocatello community.
“We wanted to create an environment where our Bengal community could come together to celebrate our student athletes,” Satterlee said. “Idaho State has a proud tradition of rallying around our teams, and we wanted to support and build upon that longstanding tradition.”
Thiros also said she felt it was important to provide the community with an energetic and welcoming environment as a thank-you for their support.
“If (people) are willing to come out and support the Bengals, we want it to be a great experience for them,” Thiros said. “We want to engage the community because they are a big reason why we are able to do what we do in athletics and across the university.”
However, Thiros said that though the changes to the tailgating event in terms of food, drink and location were part of the reason for the increase in people and the general excitement, she thinks the most important aspect was the people. It may have helped. ISU beat Western Colorado State University 45-10.
“In looking back on Friday and what a great day it was, it was in large part because of community support,” Thiros said. “Maybe we did something new, but they came out in droves to support it and participate. I think the Bengal family is really fortunate to have such great people supporting us.”
Sports editor Madison Guernsey contributed to this report.