Two hours before Ball State’s football season opener, a new tailgating alternative will kick off.
The Student Government Association will host Ball State football’s official pregame party “Countdown 2 Kickoff,” an idea that was originally part of the executive slate’s platform points during their campaign.
Malachi Randolph, SGA president, hopes to add excitement to home football games with the new event.
“At other universities, [football games] are a huge experience,” Malachi said. “It’s kind of a game-day event where you can feel the energy all day. There’s a lot going on, people are excited, you can hear music, so we’re just trying to add to that game-day experience.”
Starting at 5 p.m. students will be able to participate in activities such as tug-of-war, corn hole and volleyball in East Field – located directly behind the Ball State student seating section.
Ball State Athletics, University Program Board, Residence Hall Association, Black Student Association, Ball State Dining and WCRD collaborated with SGA to make the new tailgating event possible.
Students that pre-registered can use a meal swipe to purchase game-day meals provided by Ball State Dining, and WCRD will play live music throughout the event.
“This is the first time that I’ve ever been a part of something like this,” BSA president Dairick Wade said. “This is like the first event of this type of magnitude that I’ve seen, and the biggest that I’ve ever been involved within my four years.”
The Ball State BSA will provide drinks and prizes for contests such as life-sized hamster ball races. The group will also manage a snow cone machine and a bungee cord inflatable.
Malachi said the large number of student groups involved made putting the event together much easier, but he’s still invested plenty of his own time.
“I’m super excited, and relieved,” Malachi said. “I’ve been working 60 to 70 hours a week trying to plan this. There is a lot that goes into it, a lot of things you don’t think about.”
Since “Countdown 2 Kickoff” will be hosted inside Scheumann Stadium, there were contracts to be signed, and NCAA compliance standards that had to be met.
Malachi said the SGA saw other schools in Ohio and Illinois be successful with pregame events like this one. He also noticed a connection between those events and higher attendance at those schools’ football games.
“Student attendance at football games is one of the most important initiatives we have ... it’s critical. It’s up to us to get them to come,” said Bill Scholl, Ball State’s athletic director. “Events like this go a long way to help us reach out to the student body.”
Malachi feels “Countdown 2 Kickoff” can become a tradition that will boost school spirit along with attendance numbers.
“This is huge,” he said. “Other universities have similar events, so it’s not like we’re unprecedented across the country, but definitely here at Ball State – in my opinion – it’s going to be the biggest thing of this semester.”