MANKATO — Minnesota State University football fans have a way to go to create a tailgating tradition to rival the pre-game atmosphere at Iowa or North Dakota State or LSU.
But when the home season kicks off Sept. 14th, the fans in the parking lots outside Blakeslee Stadium will see one hindrance has disappeared. It will no longer be illegal to have a cold beer with that grilled burger or brat.
Not to say an alcoholic beverage was never consumed previously during parking lot parties hosted by Mavericks fans. But when they were, the sippers were violating a Mankato city ordinance.
“It wasn’t technically legal,” City Manager Pat Hentges said.
That is expected to change as of Monday night, when an exemption for MSU tailgating is on the City Council’s consent agenda. That part of the agenda is reserved for noncontroversial items the council typically approves unanimously without discussion.
“What they’re asking for is more traditional tailgating where people in an organized fashion could bring alcohol and tailgate off the back of their pickup truck or SUV and cook out,” Hentges said.
The prohibition against tailgating in Mankato precedes Hentges’ long tenure as city manager, going back to a time when public safety issues arose from the practice.
“Public parking lots, I am told, in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s, they had problems and the City Council passed an ordinance,” he said.
The ordinance allows for exemptions, which have been granted for downtown events such as “Alive After Five” and a private party that was held atop a parking ramp where alcohol was served.
The exemption requires certain measures aimed at containing the area where alcohol is consumed and providing for security. At MSU, tailgating with alcohol will be allowed in Lot 7 west of the stadium — which has traditionally been reserved for members of the football team’s booster club — and Lot 20 east of the stadium for average fans.
Each area will be cordoned off with signs on the perimeter stating “No Alcohol Beyond This Point.”
MSU Security will be assigned to enforce the rules inside the tailgating area, including ensuring that underage consumption is not occurring. Mankato police will keep an eye on public sidewalks to ensure open containers of alcohol aren’t being carried outside the designated tailgating zones.
“It’s not much different than probably what you see at any other football game,” Hentges said.
The exemption going before the council covers the three hours prior to kickoff and one hour after the final whistle for each of the Mavericks’ five regular season games and any playoff games.