OU officials ‘in the same book, just not on the same page,’ with fans on tailgating

Sooners fans gather at the corner of Jenkins Avenue and Lindsey Street to enjoy OU’s private tailgating before the Sooners take on the Baylor Bears. Following changes and restrictions that limited public tailgating in favor of the university’s private establishments, fans have expressed mixed feelings about the new gameday experience. Photo by Zack Wright

Norman, Okla. – Years after University of Oklahoma officials restricted public tailgating, a familiar face in Norman is rallying Sooners fans in hopes of restoring the campus’ tailgating atmosphere to previous heights.

Eddie Radosevich, staff writer and videographer at soonerscoop.com, is leading a campaign to bring tailgating back to Lindsey Street.

“It was awesome. There used to be tailgating all up and down Lindsey Street and it was kind of a university thing where fraternities, sororities, even people who came with their parents would come set up tents and stuff on game days to stake their claim,” Radosevich said about the previous tailgating environment. “They’d come out on Saturdays and it ended up being just a massive party.”

After a 2017 ruling by OU officials restricted public tailgating on Lindsey Street, many fans were upset with the new boundaries and restrictions.

“It was one of those things that just happened overnight. People came back in 2017 and couldn’t tailgate anymore. I think people were kind of confused by it,” Radosevich said. 

Officials made this decision to attract fans to their new private tailgating options on the southeast side of the stadium near Lindsey Street and Jenkins Avenue.

In a recently published News9 article, Storme Jones reported the University of Oklahoma was paid $100,000 plus annual commission based on sales for the rights to the land used for private tailgating.

In light of OU’s updated tailgating policy, public tailgating is now restricted to patches of grass near Jenkins Avenue, Asp Avenue and Brooks Street.

“Obviously there’s people that want the set-up tailgating and all that kind of stuff, and I think there can still be a place for that, but it feels like they moved everybody away from the stadium,” Radosevich said.

Fans echoes Radosevich’s evaluation. Antonio Record, better known in the community as “Mr. OU”, said his tailgating routine usually incorporates a lot of walking due to how spread out fans are across campus on gameday.

“I do attend tailgates, but it’s just walking,” Record said. “It’s a big campus… by the time I got there, it had taken an hour,” he added. 

Due to complaints from fans and overall negative impact on the gameday environment, Radosevich believes OU officials should reconsider their restrictions.

“I think it’s one of those things that could certainly be reviewed or at least looked at to figure out a way everyone could work together,” Radosevich said. 

Jones’ previously mentioned article also revealed the university’s private contract is set to expire at the end of 2024, just in time for OU’s move to the South Eastern Conference in 2025.

However, Radosevich believes Sooners fans may be a little naive about the amount of work and progress still needed to rival current SEC schools and their gameday experiences.

“Once you get there, you kind of want to be prepared, and I don’t know if there are a lot of people that are prepared right now,” Radosevich said. “But, they can start progressing towards that and I think that’s kind of what this year is about.

“Foundationally from a program standpoint, it’s kind of the same as the football team right now. Brent Venables is preparing for what is to come because [the SEC] is obviously a brighter pasture,” Radosevich said. 

Although there is an abundance of anticipation and excitement surrounding the University of Oklahoma as they transition to the SEC, it is unclear whether tailgating on Lindsey Street will return to usher in the new era of football in Norman.

“I think that the Lindsey Street movement was one of those things that we kind of had fun with, obviously we sold t-shirts, but at the same time it is also for a better cause,”Radosevich said. “It’s all about improving the landscape of everything that you want by the time you get to the SEC.”

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