Department of Athletics: Policy to Support Safe, Fan-Friendly Tailgating around Athletic Events on the Campus of UNC


UNC Department of Athletics Policy Number: 00075994


UNC and its Department of Athletics are excited to host fans for game days with the Tar Heels! We hope that everyone will help us cultivate a safe, lively, and enjoyable atmosphere for fans of all ages by being mindful of these Tailgating provisions. We look forward to seeing you at a Tailgate soon. Go Heels!

A. Purpose

  1. Tailgating at UNC is a cherished part of the Tar Heel game day tradition. All fans are encouraged to tailgate and share in the communal excitement that surrounds UNC games and brings people across the State of North Carolina to Chapel Hill. This Policy is intended to help foster a safe, enjoyable environment that will enhance and promote civility, ethical conduct, good sportsmanship, and an exciting game day atmosphere amongst fans, students, and visitors on the campus of UNC. The provisions herein are intended to work in conjunction with, not to contradict, other policies and procedures of UNC and its Department of Athletics.
  2. This Policy may be reviewed and modified from time to time by UNC. It is the responsibility of every person or group using UNC property on game day to be familiar with and abide by the provisions herein as well as the terms of all other applicable laws, rules, and regulations. Please note that Tailgate set ups are subject to removal for violations of this Policy.

B. Definitions

  1. “Alcohol,” consistent with institutional policies, shall include any beverage or other ingestible substance containing at least one half of one percent of alcohol by volume, as defined by the North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control Commission.
  2. “Commercial Sales” shall include, but not be limited to, the sale of any products whatsoever by any individual or entity not a part of, approved by, or licensed by UNC.
  3. “Grill Content” shall include items used or generated through the operations of any grill including, but not limited to: coals, ash, grease, and other residue.
  4. “Department of Athletics” shall mean UNC’s Department of Athletics.
  5. “Tailgate” or “Tailgating” shall generally mean a festive gathering of people outdoors which typically occurs around a Vehicle or in parking lots and surrounding areas before and/or after a sporting event on the campus of UNC.
  6. “Tent” shall also include any canopy or other similar structure used in conjunction with or as part of a Tailgate.
  7. “UNC” shall mean the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  8. “Vehicle” shall include, but not be limited to, any car, truck, limousine, van, mobile home/RV, and any other automobile.

C. Locations

Tailgates are welcome on UNC’s campus on game days and fans are encouraged to responsibly enjoy the festive environment Tailgating provides. To allow for as many people as possible to Tailgate on UNC’s campus, fans are asked not to occupy more than one parking space per vehicle or Tailgate.

  1. Some parking decks and lots on campus have reserved parking spaces in which parking is only permitted by individuals displaying a valid permit. Generally, Rams Club members are provided parking passes for reserved lots based on the number of season tickets purchased by the member and their Priority Point total. (The Priority Point total corresponds to the amount donated and years of Rams Club membership.)
  2. Rams Club members with a mobile home/RV may choose to have their parking located in the Williamson Lot, located directly across Skipper Bowles Drive from the Dean E. Smith Center and Ernie Williamson Athletic Center. The Williamson Lot is the designated location for Rams Club members to park their mobile home/RV at UNC football games. Additional mobile home/RV parking is available to the public at UNC’s Friday Center.
  3. Parking for the general public is available and parking fees are assessed to each Vehicle upon entry.
  4. Information about general traffic patterns, transportation, parking for handicapped patrons, and parking locations for cars, buses, and other Vehicles can be obtained from UNC’s Department of Transportation and Parking.

D. Dates and Times

  1. Parking lots will open at 8:00 AM on weekend game days and fans are encouraged to begin tailgating at that time.
  2. The Williamson Lot will open for mobile home/RV parking and Tailgating activities at 5 PM on the Friday before each UNC home football Saturday. After enjoying game day with the Tar Heels, fans are asked to clear all mobile homes/RVs from the Williamson Lot by 5 PM on the day following each UNC home football game.

E. Tents and Other Tailgating Items

To effectively accommodate the large number of fans wishing to Tailgate, the University asks individuals to be cognizant of the Tents and other Tailgating items they use.

  1. No Tent used as part of or in conjunction with a Tailgate should exceed four hundred square feet unless the use of a larger Tent is specifically preapproved in writing by the Department of Athletics, UNC’s Department of Environment, Health and Safety, UNC’s Fire Marshal, and UNC Police. Each Tent used near a grilling area shall be UL approved and have a fire resistance rating label. Such Tents used near grilling areas shall also be completely open on all sides.
  2. Unstable structures can pose a safety threat and interfere with fans’ enjoyment of game day. Therefore, all Tents and similar structures used in conjunction with or as part of a Tailgate must be adequately secured and anchored appropriately using, for example, sandbags or water barrels. Due to potential damage to underground utilities, the use of stakes is prohibited.
  3. To allow fans to easily move throughout UNC’s campus on game day, no Tent, similar structure, furniture, grill, generator, or other item used in conjunction with or as part of a Tailgate should be positioned to obstruct any sidewalks, driving lanes, traffic flow, pedestrian walkways, or disability access routes

F. Alcohol

UNC believes it is extremely important to ensure a safe, responsible, and enjoyable atmosphere on game days. Additionally, the University endeavors to foster a positive relationship with the town and residents of Chapel Hill. In furtherance of these objectives, UNC and its Department of Athletics ask visitors to campus to be cognizant of and abide by all applicable laws, rules, regulations, and policies pertaining to Alcohol. Among other things, UNC and its Department of Athletics expect fans to avoid participation in or support of any circumstances involving public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and underage drinking. On game days, UNC will focus its enforcement resources to prevent and deter high-risk problem behaviors. For more information, refer to the UNC Alcohol Policy and applicable Town Ordinances (Sec. 3-3) and state statutes [G.S. 18B-301(f)(4)].

G. Glass Containers

The use of glass containers is strongly discouraged in University-operated parking facilities.

H. Grills

Grills are a popular item at many Tailgates and may be used during Tailgating activities on UNC’s campus, provided they are operated in a safe and responsible manner in accordance with the provisions herein.

  1. Operators of grills are responsible for their safe operation at all times while on the campus of UNC. Grill operators should have an approved ABC fire extinguisher.
  2. Smokers and other open flame and heat-producing devices are not allowed inside buildings or parking decks.
  3. All grills used at Tailgates on UNC’s campus must have metal covers or lids.
  4. The area within ten feet of any barbecue Grill, smoker, or deep fryer shall be kept clear of all debris. Each Grill operator should ensure that grass is no less than six inches from the heating surface.
  5. Grills at Tailgates on UNC’s campus may not be attached to, connected to, or positioned such that they have any contact with a Vehicle while in use.
  6. While used at any Tailgate on UNC’s campus, all fires must be contained within the Grill. Grills should be positioned so that flames are kept at a sufficient distance from buildings, trees, tents, HVAC intakes, fresh air intakes, vehicles, flammable or combustible liquids, and any other flammable or combustible items. Grills shall be located a minimum of 25 feet away from combustible structures and ten feet away from non-combustible structures. Grills shall also not be positioned so as to obstruct the ingress or egress from any building.
  7. Cookers or Grills on trailers shall not be larger than a 55 gallon drum and shall not be left attached to a Vehicle while in use. Such cookers or Grills shall not be used in non-open spaces (parking decks, for example).
  8. Fires in charcoal Grills must be thoroughly extinguished with water before leaving the Grill unattended. To properly extinguish charcoals, pour water on the coals until they are no longer hot.
  9. Tank valves must be shut off prior to disconnecting propane cylinders from barbecue Grills, smokers, or deep fryers. Propane cylinders shall be removed from all Grills prior to storage.
  10. Grills shall be fully cooled prior to storage and should be properly secured after use.

I. Propane

No propane gas canister used in conjunction with or accompanying a Tailgate may exceed an approved LP gas 20-pound tank. Due the safety risks involved with significant amounts of propane, Tailgates should not have more than one spare 20-pound tank of propane. As additional safety precautions, spare canisters should be kept at least ten feet from all grilling activities and should be kept in an upright position so that the pressure relief valve is in direct communication with the vapor space of the canister. Guests are asked to bring their propane canisters with them when they leave campus.

J. Use of Power Outlets in Parking Decks

Guests using power outlets in parking decks on UNC’s campus must abide by the requirements below and remain cognizant of the following provisions:

  1. Electrical connections may not be left unattended at any time.
  2. The duration of power outlet use in parking decks on game days shall be limited, typically to two hours.
  3. Department of Athletics Facilities staff shall periodically monitor or inspect power outlets to ensure the safety of electrical connections (single access cords in good condition) and to make sure that cords do not cross travel lanes or create tripping hazards. Though the Department of Athletics will assist in monitoring these conditions, guests are fully responsible for ensuring the safety and functionality of any cords, electrical connections, and devices used. Similarly, guests using any power outlet in a parking deck on UNC’s campus shall assume any liability from any claim arising from or caused by such use, whether directly or indirectly.
  4. Prior to each home UNC football game, the Department of Transportation and Parking shall remove all outlet locks in parking facilities used for game day parking. The Department of Transportation and Parking shall reinstall such locks after each home UNC football game. (The Department of Athletics shall reimburse the Department of Transportation and Parking for the labor costs to remove and reinstall the outlet locks. The Department of Athletics shall also pay for the incremental electricity usage consumed by Tailgates on game days.)

K. Generators

Portable electrical generators are permitted, but each generator should be equipped with a noise-reducing device (for example, a manufacturer-approved cover or muffler). Special care and consideration should be taken when handling fuel and extension cords associated with generators. Generators shall not be operated in enclosed areas, near building intake ventilation ducts, or in parking decks. Generators shall not be refueled while in operation.

L. Noise

Tailgating is an essential component of the festive, enjoyable atmosphere that draws thousands of people to home UNC athletic events. Visitors to campus are encouraged to consider the content and volume of television programs and music played so they can help everyone best enjoy the lively setting of game days on UNC’s campus.

M. Prohibited Items

  1. To ensure a safe, enjoyable environment for everyone, no weapons of any kind are permitted at Tailgates on the campus of UNC.
  2. The use of golf carts, mopeds, scooters, ATVs, go-carts, and other similar motorized vehicles can be a danger to pedestrians. Therefore, use of any such vehicle around any Tailgate must be specifically preapproved in writing by the Department of Transportation and Parking unless such use is by a UNC employee or agent of UNC who needs to use such vehicle for work-related purposes.
  3. Personal and portable restrooms are not permitted.
  4. Solicitations, banners, and signage for advertising purposes, and product sampling endeavors are not permitted unless written approval is provided in advance by an authorized representative of UNC’s Department of Athletics.

N. Disposal and Cleanup

Visitors to UNC’s campus are asked to help maintain and preserve the pristine nature of the grounds by being responsible on game day and cleaning up after Tailgating. Each Tailgate is expected to properly dispose of all trash and other refuse.

  1. Each Tailgate should ensure that there is no loose trash or other refuse surrounding the Tailgate area.
  2. UNC encourages everyone to properly dispose of Tailgate waste and, whenever possible, to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Each Tailgate should collect trash and recycling in separate bags. Recyclable items include aluminum and steel cans, plastic and glass bottles, #2 and #5 tubs, cardboard, and paper. In some high-traffic parking lots, UNC may provide color coded trash and recycling bags for use by Tailgates. Unless otherwise instructed, trash should be placed in green dumpsters and recycling should be placed in blue carts at the dumpster sites. (Tailgaters are encouraged to reduce waste by reusing equipment, coolers, cups, napkins, utensils, and other materials. Waste can also be reduced by eliminating or minimizing the use of disposable or single-use items, serving snacks and condiments in bulk, and bringing storage containers for leftover food.)
  3. Excess liquids (such as cooking grease and unfinished beverages) shall not be poured down storm water drains (each of which is marked with a “Drains to Creek” placard).
  4. All Grill Content and other waste must be disposed of in an appropriate manner in the University-provided barrels marked “Hot Coals” or in similar metal containers with metal covers. Tailgaters shall not put Grill Content in any trash receptacle, grass, shrubs, parking lot, bin, dumpster, or storm drain.

Abidance by these provisions reduces the risk of fire, injury, Vehicle damage, grounds damage, and the possibility of sediments causing a negative environmental impact by entering the water drainage system.

O. Commercial Sales Policy and Donations

  1. Unless such sales are specifically preapproved in writing by the Department of Athletics and other appropriate units of UNC or unless such vendors have been officially licensed, hired, or contracted by UNC, no products (including food and beverage) may be sold at Tailgates or anywhere else on UNC’s campus on game days.
  2. Throughout the year, the Department of Athletics supports specific charitable causes in a variety of ways (for example, the UNC Dance Marathon’s efforts to raise money for the UNC Children’s Hospital). To facilitate an enjoyable game day environment for everyone, UNC asks that visitors to campus refrain from other solicitations, distribution of information, or other promotional activities which are unaffiliated with UNC or its Department of Athletics.

P. Restrooms

Portable restrooms are made available in various places throughout UNC’s campus on dates of home football games.

Q. Travel Lanes and Sidewalks

Travel lanes and sidewalks must be kept clear to allow for free, unobstructed flow of Vehicles and pedestrian traffic.

R. No Smoking Policy

Guests at Tailgating events are reminded of the prohibition of smoking. Consistent with the Department of Athletics Facilities Use Policy, this prohibition also includes electronic cigarettes.

S. Damage to University Property

UNC and its Department of Athletics strive to maintain the beauty of UNC’s campus for everyone to enjoy. Therefore, any person determined by UNC to have damaged University property will be responsible for all resulting costs of maintenance and repairs deemed necessary by UNC in its sole discretion. Such resulting costs may include, but shall not be limited to, expenditures necessary to repair grass or landscaped areas which may be damaged.

T. Enforcement

Guests to UNC’s campus are encouraged to be cognizant of the collective responsibility to maintain a game day environment conducive to everyone’s enjoyment. Responsible activities and behavior can help fulfill this objective and promote an exciting, friendly atmosphere. UNC’s Department of Athletics and UNC Police work together and with other entities as appropriate to help address issues and foster the safe, fan-friendly, and exciting atmosphere desired for all visitors to UNC’s campus.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

  1. North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control Commission - Definitions of various alcoholic beverages
  2. Town of Chapel Hill Ordinance 3-3 - Possession of open containers of malt beverages and unfortified wines on streets, sidewalks, municipal parking lots or any real estate or buildings owned or occupied by the town
  3. N.C. General Statute 18B-301(f)(4) - Possession and consumption of fortified wine and spirituous liquor

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

  1. UNC Environment, Health and Safety Manual - Chapter 04.20: Tents/Canopies Permit
  2. UNC Alcohol Policy
  3. UNC No Smoking Policy
  4. UNC Department of Athletics Facilities Use Policy
  5. UNC Transportation and Parking - Special Events Parking

Contact Information

UNC Police

UNC Department of Transportation & Parking

UNC Department of Facilities Services

Rick Steinbacher, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Marketing and Football/Olympic Sports Operations

John Brunner, Associate Athletic Director for Event Management

The Rams Club


Article ID: 131325
Thu 4/8/21 9:06 PM
Mon 4/10/23 9:22 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
03/01/2020 11:00 PM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Associate Athletic Director for Compliance
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
03/01/2020 11:00 PM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
03/01/2020 11:00 PM
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
07/01/2023 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
03/04/2016 11:00 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Department of Athletics

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