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Michigan State University Visitors' Guide 2.0: How to Tailgate at MSU

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Tailgating is a great time at MSU. By knowing a few rules specific to Michigan State before you arrive, you can make your tailgating experience go that much smoother.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

You've made it to Michigan State for game day. Great!  Some of the best times I've had at MSU were for tailgates (RIP The Rock), and if you do it right you'll have a great time. However, there are some rules specific to Michigan State you'll need to know before you show up. If you're a season ticket holder you'll most likely know these, but if you're visiting it may help to be aware of the provisions placed on tailgating on campus.

What time can I arrive to tailgate?

Tailgating almost always follows the "7-9-1" rule as to arrival times, and is as follows:

  • For a noon game, the earliest you will be let into the parking lots is 7:00 AM.
  • For a 3:30 PM game, you can begin to enter the lots at 9:00 AM.
  • For a night game, the lots will start admitting cars at 1:00 PM.
The one exception to the 7-9-1 rule are Friday night games (such as Jacksonville State in this season). For Friday night games the lots open their gates at 3:30 PM.

So I can drink anywhere in East Lansing, right?

No no no no no. That's an easy way to get an open intox ticket. You can drink almost anywhere on campus (I'll list the exceptions in a bit), and campus is bordered by Harrison Road to the west, Grand River/Michigan avenue on the North, Hagadorn road to the East, and I've never seen anyone get a ticket for going too far South.

All right, I'm on campus. Where can I park?

Essentially there's two types of lots on campus: donor lots and public lots. Here's a map of where they're located; public lots are in pink, donor lots are all other colors. Donor lots are typically the closest to the stadium, and you'll need a pass specific to that lot to park there. Depending on how big the game is you're attending, you can find these passes on Craig's List running from $30 to hundreds of dollars.

If donor lots aren't your style, all of the public lots on campus (those marked in pink on the map, along with those lots not specifically marked as donor lots) cost $15 north of the train tracks. You'll most likely want to park north of the train tracks, park south of them and you'll probably have to take a shuttle up to the game. I've had a good time in some of the lots close to the natural science building, if you're looking for a suggestion for a lot that would be mine.

So I can drink in all of the public lots then?

Almost all of them. Do you see the big public lot on the map between donor lots H and 61? That's known as Munn Field, and is an alcohol-free lot. While in theory you could be sneaky about your booze consumption, it's not worth the headache: the campus is beautiful in the fall, and a walk through the autumn foliage on campus is one of MSU's great charms.

What other rules do I need to know about?

First, no kegs or anything else that can be construed as a common source of alcohol. Second, this doesn't necessarily have to do with tailgating, but inside Spartan Stadium there is a "no-bag" policy: if you need to have any personal items or medication, they need to be brought in in a clear one-gallon resealable bag. Third, no specific drinking game structures (Note: if you have a table and are playing beer pong/flip cup, you should (emphasis on should) be fine. As with life in general, don't get explosively drunk and you'll probably be in the clear).

There are a few more rules, but the ones listed above have the potential to cause the most problems for you on game day.

Is there anything else I should do on game day?

Yup! Make sure you buy some ice cream made on campus at the Dairy Store (just south of Shaw on Farm Lane). Even if it's a late November game you won't want to pass it up. The Botanical gardens on the south side of campus are beautiful in September, a little less so in November. However, a walk through the North side of campus is almost always gorgeous, especially in the fall.

Those are all my tailgating tips. Any questions? Ask them in the comments.