Police prepared for tonight’s game

Steve Bushong

Football fans should expect an exciting and safe game tonight, police and event organizers said.

Extensive preparations have been made for the game against Minnesota, which will bring national attention to Kent State.

Another first for today is the implementation of tailgating at home football games. But Kent State’s version of tailgating, approved in February, will be more controlled than that of tailgating at pro games.

The area for tailgating is near the women’s softball field, outside the south end of the stadium. The area, called Tailgate Alley, is fenced off but open to everyone.

The activities will begin at 5 p.m. and last until kickoff.

Tailgate Alley will feature inflatables, games, vendors, three radio stations, a band and alcohol sales.

Identification will be checked, and then a wristband will be issued. Police will be at all alcohol stations to verify IDs, Heller said.

No one will be permitted to bring his or her own alcohol, Kent State Police Lt. Robert Nation said.

“The police are going to have a presence, but our focus is on a winning season this year for Kent State athletics,” Nation said.

To get football fans safely in and out of the area, police have designed a traffic plan that, on paper, with its color-coded routes, looks like a map of the New York City subway system.

But Nation said traffic around campus will be well-controlled by several police organizations, including the Portage County Sheriff, the Highway Patrol and Kent Police.

Students should take a PARTA bus to the game, because Summit Street will be closed to traffic, said Associate Athletic Director Robert Heller.

“Our goal is to have a safe arrival, a safe departure,” Nation said.

Officials expect the game to nearly sell out, and 18,000 tickets have already been sold, the ticket office said yesterday afternoon.

The field across the street from the stadium also is being used for parking for the first time.

Contact safety reporter Steve Bushong at [email protected].