Tailgating not allowed for Georgia Tech home opener

Tailgating before a Georgia Tech football game on its campus. AJC FILE PHOTO

Georgia Tech will not permit tailgating for its home opener Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium, the athletic department announced in a news release Tuesday. The athletic department previously gave fans approval to tailgate on campus.

Pregame gatherings of any size will not be permitted anywhere outside of the stadium’s footprint. Likewise, chairs, grills and coolers also will not be allowed outside of any fan’s vehicle.

When the school announced Aug. 19 its safety protocols for home games, tailgating in on-campus parking lots was approved, based on a belief that the limited attendance at games (11,000 in the 55,000-seat stadium) and the number of available parking lots could enable fans to tailgate while following social-distancing guidelines.

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“This is not a decision that was made lightly,” athletic director Todd Stansbury said in a statement. “However, at this time, we feel that the safest course of action is to invite fans to come straight from their vehicles to Bobby Dodd Stadium, where we can better safeguard the health and safety of our students, staff and visitors through the protocols that we have in place designed to mitigate the risk of the transmission of Covid-19.”

Among other ACC schools, many are not permitting fans at games, let alone tailgating. At Clemson, tailgating will be “strongly discouraged,” according to its athletics website, with no tents, large groups or trailers permitted. Florida State did not permit tailgating for the season opener against Tech on Saturday after also initially giving the go-ahead to do so.

For Tech’s 3:30 p.m. start Saturday against Central Florida, parking lots will open at 1:30 p.m. and the stadium gates will open at 2 p.m. As an inducement for fans to arrive early, some concession items will be available at a reduced price until 3 p.m.

Tech announced it will continue to monitor the situation as the season continues.