UW-Madison, police prepare for busy day of drinking, partying ahead of season opener

Football is back, and so are the pregames
UW-Madison, police prepare for busy day of drinking, partying ahead of season opener
Photo by Sarah Jessick
Camp Randall

Badger fans and students are no stranger to pre-game festivities: every home football game is preceded by hours of off-site drinking. With the Badgers’ home opener against Western Kentucky not set to begin until 8 p.m. Friday, police are warning students to pace themselves and stay safe at pre-game parties.

University Police stress they’re not walking around randomly testing people with breathalyzers. But if they find students causing problems for others, they will check to see if they’ve been drinking.

A ticket for a first underage drinking offense can cost a $260 fine. The fines increase from there.

University Police say the first home game of the season is always a big one, but coupled with it being on a holiday weekend and a night game, they’re expecting this one to be huge.

“We always anticipate we may see more issues on game day when we see a situation like we do on Friday evening,” said Marc Lovicott, Communications Director for the University of Wisconsin Police Department. “Not to say it won’t be a great game and we’re ready for it, but we always expect to see a couple more issues than we usually do at an 11 a.m. game.”

“There’s the possibility your season ticket could be revoked if you’re caught in a serious enough violation. We work with athletics and the Dean of Students office to enforce that, so there are a variety of consequences out there.”

In both 2005 and 2017, UW-Madison was named the top party school in the U.S. by the Princeton Review. The school has ranked among the Top 20 party schools in 23 surveys over the last 26 years.

Due to the recent flooding in the Madison area as well as ongoing construction projects, traffic patterns have also changed, impacting your drive to and from the game. A number of Madison-area roadways have been affected by the heavy rains and flooding in the area. Check for updates on the latest road closures due to flooding here.

In addition, the ongoing construction on Monroe Street has resulted in the closure of westbound (outbound) traffic lanes from Regent Street to Odana Road. One eastbound (inbound) traffic lane will remain open at all times from Odana Road to Regent Street. The project is scheduled to continue through the end of football season. Check for updates on the Monroe Street construction project here.

Fans with football-specific parking permits can start parking and tailgating in their assigned lots starting at 1 p.m. on the day of the game based on space availability, but the UW says fans may be denied access to their assigned lots prior to 5 p.m.

If you are planning on drinking to celebrate the home opener, consider riding the Bucky Shuttle , running from Lots 60/76 and downtown ramps. Shuttle service starts at 6 p.m. and ends one hour after the end of the game.

Non-drinkers will have more options during the Badgers’ home opener. Friday night’s game will be the first major event of the Badgers athletic department’s five-year deal with Pepsi-Cola of Madison that went into effect in July.

Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Diet Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, and Doc are among the soda choices that will be available for thirsty fans at Badgers home games.

And with the chance of rain in Friday’s forecast, officials are reminding fans that no umbrellas are allowed inside the stadium. If you do bring yours to the game, you’re asked to leave it in a bin outside the gates. There’s no guarantee you’ll get it back.

Last year’s clear bag policy is still in effect. All bags must be smaller than 12 inches by 12 inches and completely see-through.