Winona State welcomes game day experience


Contributed by Kristin Gudmundson

Winona State University introduces the “New Warrior Game Day Experience.” The new fan experience will replace the tradition of tailgating, and open the door for campus clubs to participate.

Zach Bailey, Editor-In-Chief

For decades, tailgating has existed on college campuses as the go-to option before a

sporting event. Winona State University’s first home football game on Thursday, Aug. 31 will bring this tradition to an end with the New Warrior Game Day Experience.

The Experience, originally brought to fruition by Warrior football alumni, was first mentioned to Vice President Ron Dempsey earlier this year, with Tracy Hale, associate director of alumni relations, taking the reins.

“There’s not enough time in the day to talk about all the processes that went into putting these changes into effect,” Hale said. “The main thing was just thinking about the end result we wanted, then working our way backwards.”

According to Hale, the New Experience is going to be a “complete 180” from previous tailgating experiences, and will provide a “fun, safe and exciting environment for both students and the community.”

For each of the five home football games this year, Winona State is hoping to invite both students and members of the community to be involved in the “hype” that comes before stepping onto the field.

Beginning two hours before each home football game, the New Experience will include

activities for all members of the Winona community. For students, there will be 20 student organizations tabling prior to each game, promoting their clubs and joining in on the activities, as well as two inflatables designed for college-aged students. For younger kids, there will be the Junior Warrior Zone, complete with smaller bounce houses and games.

All of these will be lined up alongside various food trucks, live music and the entertainment of Leighton Broadcasting and HBCI Broadcasting out of Winona.

Along with all the vendors and games, 65 minutes prior to the start of the game, the Warrior Walk will take place down Johnson Street, where the coaches, team, cheer and dance team take to the field.

“We wanted more of a ‘Big 10’ game day experience,” Hale said. “Even though you may not be on the team, you can still be a part of the excitement.”

Hale stated that the road to the New Experience was a fun process, and that it was unique to collaborate with so many departments on campus.

“Going into this first event, I’m excited, and not nervous at all,” Hale said.

The first New Experience takes place from 4-6 p.m. Aug. 31 at intersection of Johnson and Mark streets when the Winona State Warriors take on Bemidji State University.