Notre Dame is a fun place to tailgate, but the parties are usually short-lived with all the day games on the schedule. However, this Saturday when long-time rival USC comes to town, the Irish will play under the lights for the first time in South Bend since 1990. With great weather expected for Indiana, this could be the mother of all tailgates for the green and gold faithful, who have only experienced seven other night games in Notre Dame Stadium’s 81-year existence.
Heavily intoxicated tailgaters were the number one reason Notre Dame stopped playing night games over 20 years ago because the partying was out of control, especially for a tight-knit Catholic university. But the school believes it is much more prepared to handle the drunkenness this time around with beefed-up security and staff on hand to prevent the severely hammered fans from entering the stadium. Tailgating in the lots will be shut down promptly after the 7:30 kickoff, and with a jail built inside Notre Dame Stadium, police won’t hesitate to slap the cuffs on the disorderly.
But if you’re able to control your alcohol intake, there are many cool things to be aware of before you attend a Notre Dame football game. If you’re traveling in groups of vehicles, you have to show up at the same time, because saving adjacent spots for others to arrive is not allowed. Parking is $40 at some lots, but the auxiliary lots with free shuttle services will run you only 25 bones. But if you’re willing to walk, there are cheaper options, such as nearby St. Mary’s College.
Kegs are not permitted in university lots, and the campus is an alcohol-free zone, so make sure you bring plastic cups to enjoy your beverages, and you won’t be hassled. Charcoal grills are also not allowed on campus, so bring a propane grill, but keep the gas cylinders under 20 pounds. If you’re lucky, a leprechaun will hand out free candy in the parking lots. The marching band usually starts playing around 8 a.m. all throughout campus frequently banging out the nation’s most recognizable fight song. On gameday, one of the traditions shared by many fans is to “rub Rock’s nose” on the Knute Rockne statue at North Gate. Once you get inside the stadium, the championship ring replicas are near Gate E.
If you arrive before game day, there are some must-do traditions to partake in. Friday’s tunnel tours let you feel like Rudy and walk through the same tunnel to the field that the players do. On Friday night, the Midnight Drummer’s Circle is a drum line at the Golden Dome on campus that always energizes a large crowd. And don’t forget about “Touchdown Jesus” the name given to the mural painted on the library (because Jesus has both of his arms raised like he’s signaling a TD).
The college Football Hall of Fame is located a few miles from Notre Dame, so check it out now before it relocates to Atlanta next year.