This Saturday at the Boston College vs. USC home football game, the BC athletic department is introducing a newly designated recreational area where students can gather prior to kickoff called the Superfan Zone.
Predicting that the game against USC will draw crowds too large for all students and pedestrians to tailgate on Shea Field, BC Athletics announced that the Superfan Zone will serve as an additional area to which students can go in the event that Shea Field reaches its capacity before the tailgating period ends. An exact number for Shea’s capacity has not been determined, but capacity is assessed by historical data and judgment from a combination of BC police officials, event staff, and other athletic department administrators who staff the field on game days, according to Associate Athletic Director of the Flynn Fund Steve Novak.
In a proactive measure to retain students potentially denied entry to Shea, the Superfan Zone is scheduled to include a series of activities and complimentary prizes for students who purchased a Gold Pass.
“We’re trying to provide an alternative venue for those students who won’t have access to Shea Field,” said University Spokesman Jack Dunn. “[For] freshmen, sophomores, and others for whom the tailgating experience, the game experience is new … [they can] enjoy time before the game with fellow students.”
The Superfan Zone is also slated to include free food, beverages, live music, tailgating games, photo opportunities with men’s hockey head coach Jerry York, and several gift giveaways for the first 500 students that arrive. Pending BC Athletics’ ability to update the Gold Pass app in time, Superfan Zones will also reward attendees with Gold Pass points. While an exact time is yet to be determined, the location of the Superfan Zone will occur in the concourse area of Gate A, likely between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., according to Dunn.
The decision to introduce a new area for students was prompted back in 2012 during the home football game against Notre Dame, when students were turned away from Shea Field early during the designated tailgating period without advance warning, leaving them with few other areas to go.
“[In 2012] we had the same problem with Notre Dame,” said Director of Athletics Brad Bates. “We had to shut it down very early, and that was my first year here, and we had a lot of angry students. We weren’t proactive in our communication. This year, we’re trying to be proactive as well as implement the wristband rule so that we can get more students in if they have a relationship with the parkers.”
This year will also incorporate the use of wristbands as a screening mechanism for entering Shea once the field has reached its capacity.
In years past, any ticket holder—student or non-student—could enter Shea, but during unusually crowded games, additional tailgaters would be turned away once the field was determined to be at capacity.
Wristbands have now been distributed as an added-value measurement to those with a stake in tailgating spots on Shea, with 10 distributed per spot, as a way to ensure that a minimum number of tailgaters are reserved entry onto the field.
During the tailgating period, there will be two lanes open, adjacent to the third-base line of the baseball diamond on Shea Field on the paved-access road next to the Beacon St. garage—one for those with wristbands and one for those without, according to Novak.
“We have to forever be mindful of our obligation to protect the well-being of our students,” Dunn said. “So, limiting accessibility to Shea Field is part of our obligation to maintain student safety.”
Correction: September 10, 2014
This article originally stated that admittance to Shea Field before Saturday’s football game against USC would be contingent upon having one of 10 wristbands per tailgating spot. Athletic director Brad Bates subsequently clarified that admission will only be limited after the field has reached capacity. The article has been updated to reflect his correction.
Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff