Thursday’s football game against the University of Arizona Wildcats marks the first non-bowl game to be held on a Thursday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and with it will bring new gameday procedures.
The reason behind the schedule change this year is because USC is required to host a Thursday night game twice every three years as a member of the Pac-12 Conference, USC Associate Athletic Director Jose Eskenazi said.
“It’s a mandated thing from the conference,” Eskenazi said. “It’s obviously not our preference to host a Thursday night game, but we have to do it, and were excited to do it in the sense that we’ll tackle it head-on and hopefully it’ll be a great game experience for all those that attend.”
For the Thursday night game, no on-campus parking for the game or on-campus tailgating will be allowed.
Captain David Carlisle said the university made the decision to ban campus activities to ensure that academics on campus will not be interrupted.
“This being the first Thursday night game ever for USC, it’s going to be a challenge in that there will be no tailgating allowed on campus,” Carlisle said. “That is a decision that the university has made because it is going to be considered a normal academic day.”
Since no on-campus parking will be available to those attending the game, other options will be made available.
“Parking will be available down in L.A. Live and several lots will be open that folks can park there, and there will be a shuttle service to and from the Coliseum,” Eskenazi said.
Tailgating opportunities have also been added at the Galen Center and the Coliseum.
“To make up for the lack of tailgating on campus, the Galen Center will have an open tailgate that you can walk up to and pay to attend, and also the Cardinal and Gold Picnic at the Coliseum has opened up spaces for the general public,” Eskenazi said.
Thursday classes will be held on their regular schedules.
“Some schools cancel classes if they host a weekday football game,” Eskenazi said. “At USC, it was the administration’s decision not to do that. USC is an academic institution first and foremost, so classes are regularly scheduled and all ongoing regular campus activities will go on.”
Both DPS and the Athletic Department have been preparing for months to make sure that the night goes smoothly.
“We’ve been planning this for a good eight to nine months,” Eskenazi said. “It all started with getting all groups on campus together to talk about what the plans should be and what the communications would be, and making sure we adhere to the university policy that classes would still be in session and find alternatives for people to be able to attend the game.”
Gian Johl, a graduate student studying business administration who plans to attend the game, said that his midterm was rescheduled as a result of the football game.
“The class voted to take the midterm early because of logistics,” Johl said.
Ronan Young, a freshman majoring in business administration who regularly attends USC football games, said he thinks the Thursday night date will negatively affect student attendance.
“I feel like the student attendance won’t quite be the same because a lot of people that would say, go on a Saturday because it’s the only thing to do, now have work to do or schoolwork to do, and now they’re going to choose not to go,” Young said.
Sean Lee, an undecided freshman who is choosing not to go to the game, also believes the date will hinder attendance.
“I have the student section tickets, but I’m selling mine because I can’t make it,” Lee said. “I have a 9 a.m. class and a lot of stuff going on Friday.”
Others students, however, said that the usual schedule will not stop them from going to the game.
“I will definitely be attending,” said Paul Samaha, a freshman majoring in public relations. “Most people I know are still going.”
The Athletic Department said they are aware of the effect that the new date could have on game attendance.
“Everyone is used to it being on a Saturday so it’s a change-up from the traditional college football attending experience,” Eskenazi said. “Obviously work and school schedules will affect your ability to attend.”
Nevertheless, the department is excited for this new opportunity.
“It’s the first time we’ve had this sort of ‘week night under the lights’ kind of game,” Eskenazi said. “Coach [Orgeron] is pretty excited about it and he really wants the students’ support, sort of this renewed energy of the team with his leadership. I think it could be a pretty fun deal for students.”