University Park, FL – Every Fall since at least 2012, as Florida International University’s Football team played a home game, thousands of FIU Football fans, students, locals, and fans from the visiting teams would gather on a large field to the southeast of FIU Football Stadium to tailgate and form one of the largest and wildest outdoor parties in West Miami-Dade. Huge crowds resembling the mass of people at Ultra Music Festival would party relentlessly before and during games. Fraternities and sororities hosted tents with music, DJs, couches, and tables with traditional drinking games like beer-pong. To most, this would sound like a traditional tailgate outside of a college football game, except the lack of control and police presence would often result in major safety concerns for one of the largest public universities in the United States.
Drug use and underage drinking was a common thing at nearly every FIU tailgate party, an event popular with local high-school kids. Throngs of crazed college students packed tents, bumping and grinding to sexually-explicit songs. Nearly all would drink massive amounts of alcohol, and many enjoyed what seemed like an “anything goes” atmosphere, with public sex and nudity commonly seen, while other groups would opt for sex in portable toilets.
Unlimited partying allowed most to bypass the football game for the tailgate party. At times, many did not seem to care there was a game going on. The crowd in the tailgate would normally exceed that of the fans in the stadium.
The mixture of young males and alcohol without police would often lead to fights between large groups of young men, at times undetected by police. In one particular tailgate celebration during homecoming of 2014, you could see three different brutal fights (with dozens of fighters) happening at the same time lasting at least five minutes.
This year, FIU changed their tailgate policy, moving the party out of Tamiami Park, and onto an on-campus parking lot adjacent to FIU Stadium. FIU even implemented a schedule for tailgating, regulating when tailgaters would have to shut down their music and booze-filled partying.
This changed the tailgate experience drastically, cutting the amount of tailgaters by at least half, and greatly increasing the amount of fans in the student section during the game versus North Carolina Central University.
There was a much larger police presence during the tailgate, with officers from FIU Police, Miami Dade Police and Sweetwater Police visible throughout the tailgate. One of the FIU police officers reported no fights, with only two people needing medical transport due to excessive drinking.
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