Boise tailgating zones might become permanent

Police say the new rules on game days allowed officers to deal with more serious issues.

sberg@idahostatesman.comFebruary 26, 2014 

tailgating Julia Davis Park

Trey Reid, right, and Katie Young were among friends tailgating in the east side of Julia Davis Park near Bronco Stadium prior to the Boise State vs. UT Martin football game Saturday Sept. 7, 2013 in Boise.

DARIN OSWALD — doswald@idahostatesman.com

For several football seasons leading up to 2013, Boise police officers were handing out 350 to 400 open-container tickets every year to people tailgating for Boise State football games.

For the 2013 season, the city passed a one-year trial that designated certain public areas around Bronco Stadium as tailgating zones, including portions of Julia Davis Park. Those zones allowed people to drink alcohol between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. on home game days.

With the new law in place, officers wrote just 119 open-container tickets last fall, Boise Deputy Chief Bill Bones said. For people drinking outside the designated zones, Bones said, officers focused on educating them where and when they could drink. Most people cooperated, he said.

Writing fewer open-container tickets meant officers spent more time policing more important problems, such as excessive intoxication and fights, Bones said. Officers ticketed more minors for drinking alcohol than in years past, he said.

On behalf of the police department, Bones asked the City Council on Tuesday to make the tailgating law permanent.

Councilman TJ Thomson asked Bones whether extending the legal tailgating hours — to a 24-hour period on game days or until midnight — might be a good idea. Bones said that could lead to more alcohol-related problems, including more people drinking late into the night even if they weren’t around for the game that day.

The council directed staff to write a permanent version of the existing law. The council likely will take it up in the next month or so.

Sven Berg: 377-6275

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