Eugene – always known as one of the rowdier, more deafening stadiums in the land of the free and home of the brave, Oregon’s Autzen Stadium has now implemented some rules that may or may not lead to a slight change in environment.
The new rule changes are as follows:
- Alcohol sales will now be allowed on the main concourse
- A clear-bag policy will be applied to those entering the stadium
- The stadium parking lot will be open two hours earlier on game days
- Re-entry into the stadium from the parking lot has been banned
So there we have it, the loudest college football stadium this side of the Rockies will now sell and allow open alcohol within the stadium. One might initially surmise this would actually help create a more raucous environment but realistically that may well not be the case.
Firstly, the alcohol sold within the stadium will be what you’d expect within a sporting venue; beer. Sports and beer go hand in hand, always have. On hot September afternoons or along with a stadium hot dog a swig of a cold one sounds like a pretty good idea from a general standpoint. But here are the underlying factors behind these new rules; Oregon is looking to increase its revenue while also hoping to decrease lewd behavior incited by intoxication.
Duck fans will almost certainly still show up to the gates before kickoff with their buzz intact (well, maybe discounting the 11am game against Portland State), that much is out of the control of the stadium staff. However, the clear bag policy and the denial of re-entry into the stadium from the parking lot are clearly designed to make sure that buzz cannot be maintained or exacerbated. Smuggling flasks in a dark corner of a purse or backpack won’t be an option, nor will retreating to the parking lot to consume the alcohol before not allowed in the stadium. That leaves the only option as purchasing alcohol from the stadium itself. Boom! Instant revenue. And I’ll tell you what, draft beer won’t induce the tipsiness the unholy concoctions downed in the parking lot will unless consumed in earnest. Boom! More revenue.
A few years ago, Autzen implemented its Code of Con-Duckt with web-footed stickers plastered around the stadium’s walkways, imploring guests to behave themselves. It makes sense. Autzen is a college stadium, filled with boisterous college students and young adults looking to enjoy a Saturday after a hard week at work. But it’s also full of families, older alumni and boosters, and children who would prefer a noisy, but more dignified, environment.
Autzen, like any other known madhouse in college football, can get pretty rough sometimes. Behavior amongst the masses may very well fall well outside the aforementioned Code of Con-Duckt. If nothing else, these new rules will at least help to ensure a fuller and more attentive house at the start of the third quarter. Traditionally the halftime tailgating scene around Autzen almost rivaled the pre-game. The famous Autzen touchdown foghorn would blare to indicate five minutes until the second half kickoff, still this tactic failed to keep the stadium packed by the start of the third. Perhaps a better start of the second half environment is achievable through these new methods. But without the halftime intake of booze will the Duck faithful still be able to bring Autzen up to 130 decibels in the 4th quarter, as they have in several marquee matchups?
The implementation of these new rules will require hiring a plethora of new stadium security staff to enforce them of course but the additional revenue of beer sales will easily cover their salaries. The main question remains how will the hostile atmosphere of Autzen be affected? Stanford rolls into town September 22nd likely with a top 25 ranking and having embarrassed Oregon the last two seasons. The students will be back by then, and the stadium will be jammed.
So needless to say, we’ll find out soon enough.