Homecoming games cause more of a mess

(U-WIRE) BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Anyone who drives by Memorial Stadium after Saturday’s homecoming football game won’t be able to miss it, but anyone who drives by Sunday afternoon won’t look twice.

Tailgating festivities before home games leave the fields across from the stadium littered with Bud Light and Keystone cans, plastic cups, Styrofoam coolers, empty family-size bags of chips, hamburger boxes and more – all of which contribute to the stench of rotting garbage.

This weekend’s homecoming game will create even more of a mess than usual, said Prentice Parker, events coordinator for the athletic facilities at Indiana University.

“There could be 45,000 to 50,000 people here,” he said.

Some tailgating groups have tried to do their part in cleanup by stuffing their garbage into trash bags, which they leave in their area for the cleanup crew.

By Sunday morning’s end, the field will be restored to its greener state.

The cleanup process starts at 6:45 a.m. the morning after game day.

Usually about 120 to 140 people clean the stadium and tailgate area, and it often takes less than four hours to finish, Parker said.

“If we have more kids, we’ll get done quicker. Less kids, we’ll be here a little longer,” Parker said.

Parker coordinates the cleanup by giving fundraising incentives to members of the community, such as the Owen Valley Fire Department and IU, Bloomington High School South and Edgewood High School bands.

“The money goes back to the schools of people that help,” Parker said. “They’re happy with what they get. That’s the reason they’re here every year. They aren’t selling fruitcakes door to door – they do this, and then they’re done.”

Each group must have at least 40 people, with usually two to three groups working at a time, said junior Ashley Ordner, who cleaned up to raise money for Kappa Kappa Psi honorary band fraternity several times this season.

“It seems like pretty much every other thing you pick up is either a beer can or bottle – or raw meat,” Ordner said. “You have to pick up all the glass shards, too. It sucks.”

Sometimes, trash-pickers said, the process can be rewarding. Members of Ordner’s group have found treasures such as a grill and a $100 Target gift card. Of course, most of the time it’s not. Last year, one group member found a used condom, Ordner said.

This weekend, cleanup will take longer than usual, probably until around noon Sunday, Parker said.

To him, it’s worth it.