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SEC policy prohibits football fans from leaving, re-entering games

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | 7:18 p.m. CST; updated 11:36 a.m. CST, Wednesday, November 16, 2011

COLUMBIA — At halftime of any Missouri football game, the Memorial Stadium parking lot is full. We're not talking about a car in every space. It's full of people, fans who ducked out of the stadium during the break between the second and third quarters.

The scene resembles the sea of people that can be found in the parking lot before the game starts. It's full of fans who are picking up where they left off — grabbing a bite to eat, drinking a few more beers or tossing the football around — before their tailgate was interrupted by a college football game.

This practice, as popular as it is, looks to be coming to an end.

Among the changes coming with Missouri's move to the Southeastern Conference is a conference-wide football policy that prohibits fans from leaving and re-entering the game. It would change Missouri's current policy that permits the practice at Memorial Stadium.

According to an email from SEC spokesman Charles Bloom, the SEC policy on stadium re-entry states, “Once admitted to the stadium, no ticket holder shall be permitted to leave and re-enter the facility on that ticket. In the event of inclement weather, home team game management shall have the authority to waive this policy.”

The policy was put in place in 2001, according to Bloom, after Arkansas and South Carolina joined the conference in 1991. No school has become a member since then, but that will change when Missouri and Texas A&M officially become members July 1.

Missouri spokesman Chad Moller said via email that the MU Athletics Department is “aware of the policy,” but that it hasn’t been discussed yet.

Especially for fans whose tailgates are near the stadium exits, heading out at halftime has become a routine. Some fans said they are looking to eat some of their own food rather than spend money on food inside the stadium, and others go outside to talk on their cellphones.

Another group of fans have to head outside the stadium walls in order to smoke. Many of the fans outside during halftime of Missouri's 17-5 win over Texas on Saturday were smoking, something that is prohibited inside Memorial Stadium.

The Missouri re-entry policy currently reads, “To re-enter the stadium, fans must have their ticket scanned out when they exit the stadium. … A valid ticket scan is required for re-admission.”

Most SEC schools alert fans of the policy on their websites, instructing fans to bring everything they need with them into the stadium and what to do in case of medical or weather emergencies.

What would need to happen for this policy to change?

“In order for this policy not to be in effect for SEC contests, the athletics directors must vote to overturn it,” Bloom said via email. He said that to his knowledge there haven’t been any discussions to strike down the policy.

Todd McCubbin, executive director of the Mizzou Alumni Association, said he has only heard from a couple of alumni regarding the issue. He said the way other schools' fans have handled the policy bodes well for Missouri fans.

"I can see where it will be an adjustment," McCubbin said via email, "but the SEC schools have large fan bases, and it isn’t an issue for them."

Saturday, several fans said they thought the change would affect many others, but said that they won't be too upset by it personally.

For one fan, the policy change would be a small price to pay for seeing his school join a new conference.

"I think it will throw some people off," MU senior Ian Miller said, "but mostly people are happy to be in the SEC."


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Comments

Ellis Smith November 16, 2011 | 10:55 a.m.

Getting the SEC rule changed should be a snap, especially when you're the new kid in the neighborhood. :)

I liked the "opinion survey" of Tiger fans, in the above article. I suspect the deleted comment by "USAF MU" might have been of more interest.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield November 16, 2011 | 11:46 a.m.

I don't see MU pushing for an exception. Applying the SEC rule would mean a captive audience and thus more revenue, especially from beer sales. The athletic department will need all the money it can get to fund the upgrades necessary to get competitive in the SEC.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams November 16, 2011 | 12:02 p.m.

Jimmy:

I don't go to MU football games unless someone gives me a freebie ticket. I'm mainly a track guy.

However, did I miss the "reasons" the SEC has this particular rule?

Surely it can't just be food sales. Filled stands for the cameras?

Do you know?

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield November 16, 2011 | 12:21 p.m.

Michael, I haven't heard the reason, but I suspect that it's to maximize concession revenue. Look at the jacked-up prices for beer, soda, etc. That makes for a big profit margin. (Maybe the rallying cry can be, "People before profits!) Then look at similar industries. For example, theater owners make most of their money from concessions rather than tickets.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams November 16, 2011 | 1:22 p.m.

Jimmy:

Well, yes....concessions are a huge money maker.

Why, I could invite you over to see the entire video of my recent 8-point kill, but you wouldn't want to pay the beer price.

So I won't.

(Let's see....can't take food/drink into stadium, want to take food/drink into stadium, can't leave stadium....honey, I think it's time to buy that DDDDD cup!)

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield November 16, 2011 | 1:34 p.m.

I wouldn't be surprised if diaper bags suddenly become THE game-day accessory for female MU fans. You can practically fit a pony keg in some of those.

(Report Comment)
frank christian November 16, 2011 | 3:25 p.m.

A friend used to bring his binoculars around his neck, then at half time pull out two not so cool canned Bud. "Any port in a storm" fits this situation too.

(Report Comment)
kirsten williams November 17, 2011 | 4:17 p.m.

i hope they change it, i'm sure the other school's students would completely support that! (plus don't some of them sell alcohol in the stadium)

(Report Comment)

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