Saturday at Wells Fargo packs both arena and parking lots



Meaghan McCann

A 2 p.m. tipoff at Wells Fargo Center, a packed arena and a classic Big East rivalry created the perfect pre-game storm for Villanovans this past Saturday. On Feb. 6, hundreds of students flocked to the most anticipated tailgate of the Men’s Basketball season. 

Every year, one Men’s basketball game hits the trifecta of being at the Wells Fargo Center midday on a Saturday. Early this past Saturday morning, hundreds of Villanovans packed onto school buses bound for Philadelphia’s famous sports complex and the much anticipated second matchup against Georgetown. This event is known for a seemingly endless sea of sunglasses-clad alumni, parents and students in the C Lot, and of course spirited pre-game activities. 

It’s difficult not to wonder what goes through the minds of the Wells Fargo Event Staff as they watch the army of yellow school buses descend on the arena’s parking lot. 

Past student interviews have revealed some discontent with regard to on-campus tailgate policy, especially around Parent’s Weekend and Homecoming. Football tailgating takes place within the jurisdiction of the Radnor Police and VU Public Safety, and the guidelines for enjoying the pre-game festivities are made known to students and alumni in Pike Lot. 

Conversely, the students’ beloved Wells Fargo Center tailgate feels a lot like a free-for-all. 

In certain parking areas, tailgating is approved for anyone to partake in at the Wells Fargo Center. Drinking is allowed on the premises for those who are over 21. Unlike Villanova’s Pike Lot rules, there are no restrictions on kegs or glass bottles in the parking lot, and you do not need to show ID to enter. 

During approved tailgating times, the Wells Fargo Event Staff and Security Staff compose the arena personnel who have a presence in the parking lots during approved tailgating times. Together, they are tasked with providing a safe atmosphere for fans to enjoy events. 

Although the Wells Fargo Center staff supervises parking lot events, they are not responsible for enforcing the law. For this reason, the Philadelphia Police is also on the premises, primarily due to underage drinking concerns. In the past, they have been known to cite underage drinkers. 

The Wells Fargo Center Vice President of Public Relations, Ike Richman, weighed in on Philly fanfare and tailgating during city sporting events. “Philadelphia has really good fans,” Richman said, adding that “they are loud, passionate and knowledgeable, and they let their feelings be heard.” 

Regarding the once-a-year presence of Villanova students, he reiterated that “fans can really help their team,” observing that the amazing presence in the Wells Fargo Center last Saturday must have been instrumental for the Wildcats’ 16 point victory over Georgetown.

Unsurprisingly, he noted that inclement weather has a huge impact on the number of students or fans who show up before games in the complex, regardless of sport or team. 

Different Big East schools have their own tailgating traditions, and some don’t tailgate at all, such as Georgetown.  “To be honest, we don’t tailgate for basketball games,” says Georgetown undergraduate Brianne Griffith.  “There is nowhere to tailgate outside of the 

Verizon Center because it’s in the center of D.C. If we had an arena on campus [we would tailgate Men’s Basketball games.]” That being said, Griffith added that “the majority of students do pre-game the [Men’s Basketball] games.”

The Wells Fargo tailgate atmosphere is reminiscent of on-campus football tailgating before the policy changes took place. Ryan Rost, Villanova’s 12- year Assistant Dean of Students, reports seeing some change in tailgate policy throughout her career at the University. “Twenty-two years ago, when I was a freshman, it was a free-for-all,” Rost said of on-campus tailgating, and specifically Homecoming. She noted that it wasn’t until 1993 that “[safer tailgating measures] were put into place.” These include the tent gatherings on Sheehan Beach and the Pike Lot crackdown. 

Rost noted that off-campus tailgating, although outside of University Public Safety jurisdiction, “can become a significant community issue when people are coming back [to campus] intoxicated. If someone is drinking at 12 p.m., and they come back [to campus] at five, it can become an issue [of safety for the residents of Villanova’s campus.]”

It seems that Saturday was a win for Men’s Basketball, beating Georgetown by 16 points, and a win for Villanova students, escaping the confines of campus rules.