Building pride at the U of R

A rare example of a full bleachers./Arthur Ward

A rare example of a full bleachers./Arthur Ward

The URAA hosts tailgate parties to increase game attendance

If you’ve ever attended a Rider game, you can attest to the fact that Saskatchewan has some of the most passionate and supportive fans in Canada. We take pride in our club, attend games in all weather conditions, and rep our jerseys on casual Fridays. What we don’t seem to do, however, is spread our Saskatchewanian pride to other sports. The home of the Riders is the home of the Rams, too.

At Mosaic Stadium, there’s a famed “university section” that’s well-known for being one of the loudest and proudest in the stadium. Why is it, then, that attendance and atmosphere at Rams games suck?

Quite simply, students lack when it comes to game attendance. Fortunately, the University of Regina Alumni Association (URAA) is taking action. The URAA has established a strategic plan with one main mission—build pride.

“We boiled down our entire vision and what we exist for is to build pride in our university” URAA President Jeph Maystruck said.

So, what does this mean for students? Well, it means that you are formally invited to awesome tailgate parties hosted by the URAA. Now, at specified basketball, volleyball, hockey and football games the URAA is getting the fans going with music, food and beer. What’s even more important for students? It’s all free! Yes, free beer.

“What we have identified is that we really kind of lack in the area of those pride building moments that really build affinity and engagement within our alumni, so one of our ideas, kind of stemming from the NCAA schools in the United States, is to run tailgate parties and more large-scale events with more fans and more… Awesomeness,” Maystruck said.

URAA has been hosting these tailgate parties for one year, but the popularity is just starting to spread. It hasn’t been easy getting more people to the games, but the tailgate experience is helping encourage repeat attendance.

“That’s our weak point, we are not that good at getting people out. We are trying to make the event so good by providing food, drinks and a lot of fun… To really create a wow experience” he said.

Although getting fans out has been difficult, the feedback for each event has been extremely positive. It’s a great opportunity to not only have fun with other students and support our teams, but also mingle with a diverse group of people with a shared experience.

“What we are trying to do is grow our numbers, literally. We have a huge vested interest to invite everybody we can—alumni, fans, students even—to come on out to events. Until those stands are full at each of our sporting events, we need more people.” he said.

The URAA identifies crazy awesome sports fans exist at the University of Regina and wants to build on the mentality that’s demonstrated at Rider games.

“The Roughriders sucked at one point, and nobody liked them and nobody went to their games and they were going to fold. All of a sudden, some weirdoes in section 28 – actually dubbed the “university section” – made it fun and cool to paint your body and be wild in the stands. At the core of that is just being proud of your team. Everyone wants to be a part of something awesome, so it grew really fast.” he said.

The URAA has set the bar high, aiming to have the biggest university crowd in Canada. I’m sure we would all like to see this goal met, so save your cash and come out to the next event! The next tailgate is Saturday, Nov. 15 for the basketball games and will be held in the Kinesiology building.

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