Hachtel says, "We are going to throw it open for discussion and we are going to say, ‘What was good about your experience on gameday last year in the recently concluded season and what didn't work? What did you find problematic--from bathrooms, to food, to traffic getting out of town? What would you like to see for next year, realizing that there are always going to be rules?'"
In recent years, new restrictions on where fans can park and how traffic can move around campus has displaced some long-time tailgaters from their favorite locations. Campus construction the past two years has also displaced fans from their normal tailgate locations.
AU alumni and fans have made their displeasure known at some of the changes implemented in recent years.
"We want to make the football gameday experience as enjoyable as possible for those who invest their time and money in supporting Auburn football," says Hachtel, who is AU's assistant vice president for Communications and Marketing. "At the same time, we have to be mindful of safety concerns and the best interests of the university and the campus. These forums will allow us to go to the fans and discuss with them ways that we can accomplish all of these goals. We invite all Auburn football fans to attend and participate."
The opening forum is set for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 15th at the Cahaba Rooms 1 and 2 at the Hilton Birmingham Perimeter Park Hotel, located at 8 Perimeter Park South in Birmingham.
*The second forum is set for Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 5:30 p.m. in the Seminar Room of the Auburn Hotel & Dixon Conference Center on South College Street in Auburn. All participants at the Auburn forum will receive a free ticket to that evening's Vanderbilt vs. Auburn men's basketball game.
*On Thursday, Feb. 17th at 6:30 p.m. EST (5:30 p.m. CST) in Columbus, Ga., there will be a forum in the Empire Mills Room of the Wyndham Columbus Hotel at 800 Front Avenue.
*The fourth forum is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 28, at 6:30 p.m. in Montgomery. It will be held in the Tallapoosa Room of the Hilton Garden Inn Montgomery East at 1600 Interstate Park Drive.
"It is my goal, and I think the committee's goal, that we have gone as far as we can go, and possibly a little farther, in terms of restricting parking on the campus," Hachtel notes. "It's time for us to evaluate the effectiveness of what we have done and respond appropriately.
"If posts and chains are in places they shouldn't be, then move it back, take it down, something," Hachtel adds. "Find a way to open up a little bit more space on the campus. One of the things we're hearing a lot from the city is that the more we restrict people on campus, the more we're driving people out into city neighborhoods."
Many Auburn alumni and fans have made it clear that some of the recent parking and traffic changes have not been well received. Hachtel says he realizes that. "I think it's very important that the gameday committee understands, and I think this committee does understand, that the people that come here are the university's guests. One of the things you try to do for your guests is try to make them feel comfortable and give them a sense that they can enjoy themselves. I don't think we have always communicated that very well.
"I think we need to communicate better what we're going to be doing, through the website www.auburn.edu/gameday, through this, through what I consider to be a seed change in attitude about how we deal with the suggestions that we get from fans and tailgaters and RVers. I think we can create a better atmosphere for gameday so that's generally where I'd like to take the committee."
With crowds approaching 90,000 fans attending Auburn home games at Jordan-Hare Stadium, AU officials and city officials are working together more closely than they have in many years in an attempt to make the gameday traffic flow more smoothly.