EUGENE, Ore. -- The University of Oregon announced several changes to Autzen Stadium for the upcoming football season Thursday in an effort to improve safety and fans’ experience.
When the changes go into effect, parking lots will open two hours earlier on game day, in-stadium beer and wine sales will expand, a clear bag policy will be in place and fans will no longer be able to re-enter the stadium after leaving.
“The Autzen Stadium experience is the best and most magical in college football, and we are always looking for ways to enhance that experience for our great fans,” Athletic Director Rob Mullens said. “These changes also reflect best practices in the industry regarding fan safety and the high priority we place on a safe and positive experience for everyone attending an Oregon football game.”
The new policies come after consistent feedback from fans at Power 5 peer institutions.
The university said having parking open for six hours before games will ease traffic congestion in Eugene and on Interstate 5. For late morning and noon kickoffs, the lots will not open before 7 a.m.
Alcohol sales will expand from the Moshofsky Center and The Club at Autzen to the general concession areas of the stadium. The decision was reached in partnership with the UO and Eugene police departments and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
The university said in-stadium alcohol sales will provide more control and serve as deterrents to overconsumption.
The expanded parking lot hours and alcohol sales are part of a one-year pilot program.
The university said not allowing fans to re-enter the stadium is part of an effort to reduce binge drinking and alcohol-related incidents.
“Eliminating re-entry at football games creates a safer football environment, plain and simple,” UOPD Chief Matt Carmichael said. “Historically, too many fans leave the stadium at halftime and consume additional alcohol during the relatively short break. They often return to the stadium and have the intoxication effects really hit them in the second half. This leads to unruly behavior and medical issues that can easily be avoided. Law enforcement fully support the change, since we know it will support a safe fan experience.”
Some people said they feel frustrated with these changes. They feel the inability to re-enter the stadium will pose problems for a lot of people.
"It's kind of ridiculous. Why does it matter? Is it that hard to put a stamp on someone's hand? Is it that inconvenient?" said Jake Wilmink, a student at the University of Oregon.
Students also said they're annoyed with the new bag restrictions because most of them don't have clear bags.
"The clear bags, I feel like I wouldn't be surprised if this was another marketing thing for the school to make more money because they'll probably start selling them," said Giana Machato, another UO student. "But I don't think many students have them, so that will be pretty inconvenient for us."