More than 3,000 supporters pack campus parking lot to usher in return of Buccaneer football
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Sept. 27, 2014) – An estimated 3,000-plus fans packed the on-campus parking lot located behind Warf-Pickel Hall and adjacent to the new parking garage on the west end of campus for a day full of food, friends and football for the first-ever ETSU Game Time 101 football celebration.
In the event sponsored by Food City, East Coast Wings and East Tenn Rent-Alls, fans claimed their tailgating spots in the lot as early as Friday evening. Johnson City resident and ETSU alum Rob Martindale was one of the first on Friday to reserve his tailgating area and to set up for Saturday’s celebration.
“Football at ETSU is back and we are excited and ready to go,” said Martindale. A longtime ETSU football supporter, Martindale believes Saturday’s large turnout is indicative of what pregame festivities will be like going forward. “This is the way it is going to be. In the last 10 – 15 years, tailgating has become a huge event nationwide so I think we will have similar turnouts from here on out for Buccaneer football.”
The day’s festivities began with tailgaters filing into the lot at sunrise and proceeded with the large LED Jumbotron, provided by TERI Productions, broadcasting ESPN College Football GameDay at 9 a.m. A welcome and announcement portion featuring Voice of the Bucs Jay Sandos and ETSU head coach Carl Torbush followed, as well as the opening of the Kids Zone near the Center for Physical Activity (CPA), before the Tennessee at Georgia football game aired on the Jumbotron at noon.
Various contests and auctions occurred during the UT game before the drumline led the ETSU football team in the BucWalk upon the game’s conclusion. The Bucs then took to the field next to the CPA approximately 30 minutes following the UT – UGA matchup for the first live ETSU football action in Johnson City in 11 years.
After the scrimmage, fans participated in a cornhole tournament and an ETSU player autograph session while the “Tailgater of the Day” was also announced. The day’s events closed with a fireworks show at dusk.
“We are thrilled with today’s turnout at our Game Time 101 event,” said ETSU Senior Associate Athletic Director/COO Scott Carter. “There are so many people who have been hungry for an event like this and for football in the region. We have put a lot of time into this but it is really a credit to our fans, students, citizens of our region, and community who have come together today.”
A 2005 ETSU graduate, Mark Newland was blown away by the support shown by Buccaneer fans on Saturday and believes the rebirth of football in Johnson City is just the beginning of something special for the school and region.
“When we had football before, I don’t think we ever had this many tailgaters,” said Newland. “I think it is different this time. We have a lot of enthusiasm, a lot more school pride than there used to be. When I see this many people here today and think about how many people we will have next year, I can’t even really imagine it. It is definitely growing and is going to be really big.”