The Return of Wells Fargo Tailgates


Courtesy of Kate Blazejewski

Students tailgated in the parking lot of Wells Fargo Center.

Chloe Miller, Co-Culture Editor

The start of single-digit weather and the dreary second semester also signals every Villanovan’s favorite season, Wells Fargo Center tailgate season. Villanova students gather in the empty parking lot of Wells Fargo Center to prepare for the men’s basketball game. 

With only three games taking place at Wells Fargo during the season, students were eager to get back and cheer on the ‘Cats after a two-year hiatus. For freshmen and sophomores, this Sunday was their first Villanova tailgate experience. 

Despite the horror most students face when setting a 7:30 am alarm for their 8 am class, they were more than willing to wake up at 6:30 am to catch their Uber in the Sheehan circle. Taking place on the coldest day of the winter so far, Villanova’s game against Butler University was the only place for students to be. 

As 9 am rolled around, plenty of Villanova students had already arrived and were waiting at the gates of the arena. Whether students managed to get there by train, Uber, or a school-sponsored bus, everyone piled in bright and early. It was impossible to miss the army of yellow school buses that arrived at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday morning. The atmosphere at the Villanova tailgates is reminiscent of college football but much colder. 

The fashion for the tailgate was unanimous, and you can find evidence of it on nearly every Villanova student’s Instagram. It was rare to see anyone without a massive winter jacket, gloves, a hat and likely multiple layers of socks and pants. Barely in the double-digits, students had no choice but to bundle up. 

“I probably needed to wear three more pairs of socks,” sophomore Anna McCarthy said. “Next time will be more fun now that I know.”

Echoing the same sentiment sophomore Jennifer Ryan called the tailgate “a learning experience” when asked about the freezing temperatures.  

The weather did not stop the excitement of the student body. Many fraternity members and other students parked their cars in the lot and blasted music for the rest of the Villanovans. If you looked hard enough you could even catch some alumni and parents joining in on the old Villanova tradition. 

One of the most special parts about the Wells Fargo tailgates is simply the camaraderie of Villanova’s nearly 7,000 student population. 

“After such a weird year last year and still not a completely normal fall semester, it was so nice to see students from all different organizations coming together,” Maggie Winston said. “This is something I looked forward to doing as soon as I decided on coming to Villanova and I know most people feel the same way.”

It is not just the students who find the tailgates so special, but also faculty and staff. Villanova head basketball coach Jay Wright commented on the tailgate after the game. 

“This is one of the most unique college basketball atmospheres in the country,” Wright said. “This is an NBA arena but a college crowd. You’ve got to see all the students out there. To see them tailgating in seven-degree weather, which blows my mind every year… every time I see it, I’m like ‘I can’t believe they still do that.’ It’s a fun place to play and a great experience for our guys.”

A long-lasting tradition, as the Wildcats have played for years in Wells Fargo Center since its opening in 1996 and have won their fair share of games in the arena. To many Villanova basketball fans, Wells Fargo Center is a home away from home. Villanova basketball, and of course the tailgates, were a huge factor in many students’ decisions to come to Villanova. 

“As a big sports and Villanova fan, I was super sad when I didn’t get to go to any games last year,” Alex Tessendorf said. “Being able to go to games at big places like Wells Fargo was something I was really looking forward to. It was so fun to be a part of a big Villanova tradition.”

As soon as it hit 10:30 am and the doors to Wells Fargo opened, there was a mad dash to enter the first basketball game open to students in Philadelphia since 2020. Amidst the long lines, close quarters and the student ticket app crashing, there was no moment more relieving than entering the arena for either the first time ever or the first time in over 700 days. 

The Wildcats conquered the Butler Bulldogs with a final score of 82-42, which was a perfect way to commemorate their return. Students have two more opportunities to tailgate at Wells Fargo during normal season play on Feb. 5th, where the ‘Cats face the UConn Huskies and on Feb. 12th where they face the Seton Hall Pirates.