IN THE FALL OF 2006, the University of Washington’s athletic department politely asked Husky football fans to tighten up their sprawling tailgate spreads—beer kegs, lawn furniture, roving kids painted purple and gold—so more people could enjoy the lot. It didn’t go well. “It was like we’d asked them to give up their firstborn,” says UW Associate Athletic Director Chip Lydum. “We got an avalanche of feedback, like, ‘You’d think that when you’re not winning football games, you wouldn’t be messing with those of us who are loyal.’”
All of their barking may seem tame once the Great Dawg Diaspora commences this September. Thanks to a Sound Transit construction project that broke ground last December, nearly 600 parking spots in the E-11 lot just south of Husky Stadium are off-limits to pigskin pre-funking through 2016. Now those who parked there—members of U-Dub’s Tyee donor club—will simply pack up their grills and move to the much larger E-1 lot north of the stadium. But in order to accommodate them, E-1, which used to host a mix of donors and non-donors, will be reserved exclusively for Tyee members. So like a boozy band of Koozie-wielding refugees, hundreds of hardcore Husky tailgaters will be forced to wander the west side of campus in search of new lands on which to perform their pregame rituals.
Scott Liljedahl is one of the displaced Dawg fans. “We’re devastated,” he says of his group, which has spilled beer in E-1 since 1999. “We had the perfect tailgate situation.” So devastated were they, in fact, that as of July they had yet to even consider where they might relocate.
Lydum, unapologetically anxious about the inevitable backlash, hopes enterprising U-District renters and homeowners will consider selling space in their driveways to the E-1 exiles. And Liljedahl is clinging to the hope that they’ll comply: “I would hate to go to the games sober, especially the way they’ve been playing.”