Thousands of tailgate parties kick off MU game day

Tailgaters set up their canopy tents before Saturday's football game. Tens of thousands of people filled the stadium for the season opener.

Parking lots around the MU campus transformed into a sea of tents and barbeques as thousands of people gathered to celebrate the first Tigers game of the year.

Nearly every parking lot near Faurot Field was full of tents and vehicles. Some tailgaters arrived as early as 2:30 a.m. Saturday to immediately begin celebrating.

"The atmosphere, for sure," said tailgater Derek Cottrell. "I don't live here anymore, but coming back and seeing the following that Mizzou has is awesome."

Nearly every tailgating setup was unique. Aside from the usual canopy tents and folding chairs, some tailgaters had elaborate designs for their tailgate setup. Jay McClain and his family brought inflatable furniture, a wall mounted flat-screen TV, and a full bar that he built from scratch.

"We've been tailgating for about five years," McClain said. "We designed our own bar to bring out and set up... We bring our own TV, stream live games, stream from Dish Network at our home."

McClain said he has high hopes for the Tigers this season, and that no matter what happens he will be watching. "I just look for people to realize that Missouri is a legitimate program, we belong in the SEC and we're here to stay," McClain said.

Other fans said tailgating is a tradition that extends beyond simply watching a football game. Travis McCartney said the game provides his family with an opportunity to come together and do something they all enjoy.

"As far as the tailgating goes, you get together, you talk football," McCartney said. "Maybe you only see each other at the tailgate, other times of the year you don't see people."

Former Columbia resident Jason Spalding said now that the season has begun, he'll be logging a lot of miles on the road to be at each game. "I drive up from Dallas every week when the season starts," Spalding said. "All of my friends live here in Columbia, so it will be a lot of fun."