Heinz: Bud will sponsor tailgates

Dan Murtaugh

The wild ride that Associated Student Government’s alcohol-friendly tailgates have taken during the past few weeks took another turn Thursday when ASG President Jordan Heinz said Budweiser would take over 1800 Club’s responsibilities of providing insurance and serving the free beer.

The latest development in the tailgate saga won’t affect the event itself, said Heinz, an Education senior. The tailgate will start at about 9 a.m. Saturday next to Ryan Field’s east parking lot.

Despite the tailgate’s problems so far this year — including an aborted first event, low attendance and recurring uncertainty over who would provide insurance — Vice President for Student Affairs William Banis said the tailgates have a good chance of returning next year.

“In all likelihood, the tailgates will be back,” he said.

Administrators have no problem with the sponsor switching to Budweiser, Banis said.

“If the tailgates are maintained well, we don’t care if it’s Coke, Pepsi or 7-Up,” he said.

A Budweiser representative could not be reached for comment Thursday, but on Monday Tim McCay, sales manager for Quality Beers, which distributes Budweiser, said Bud would be happy to be the sole sponsor of the tailgate.

The approximately $500 insurance cost for the first two tailgates was paid for by 1800 Club, 1800 Sherman Ave., which also provided a bouncer to check IDs and a bartender to serve the free beer that Budweiser supplied.

But 1800 Club owner Tony Anton said after the first tailgate that the low attendance — about 150 students — didn’t give the club enough exposure. And after the second tailgate, on Oct. 27, drew a similar crowd, Heinz said he wasn’t sure 1800 Club would continue to pick up the tab.

Heinz said he spoke with an 1800 Club representative Monday night, but that no one got back to him by Thursday, when paperwork for the tailgate was due, so Budweiser picked up the slack.

But Anton said Thursday night that he still thought his club was sponsoring Saturday’s tailgate.

“As far as I know, I don’t believe anything’s changed,” he said.

ASG leaders would have secured sponsors to pay for insurance for all four tailgates at the beginning of the year but were wary to do so because of a policy that allows the university to cancel the tailgates at any time.

“We evaluate each tailgate, and we reserve the right to not endorse tailgates if there are serious problems,” Banis said.

Heinz said ASG is focusing on improving attendance at tailgates this year. The Public Relations Committee, headed by Education senior Kate Duffy, put up fliers around campus and chalked the area near The Rock.