UW launches new fan initiative

"Rolling Out the Red Carpet" aims to promote good fan behavior

When the Badgers open their home football season against Central Florida this weekend, Athletic Department officials hope fans will notice some friendlier faces in addition to three new scoreboards and the luxury boxes added in the renovations over the summer. A new initiative called "Rolling Out the Red Carpet" hopes to put fans on both sides of the football at ease.

The campaign, said UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley, comes in response to numerous complaints from Badger fans and out-of-town fans of harassment, threats of violence and vandalism. Shortly after the Badgers' 17-10 defeat of Ohio State, Wiley released letters of complaints from visitors and asked for student and community suggestions. The initiative sought to incorporate these responses, Wiley said.

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Chancellor John Wiley addresses
the media Tuesday.
(AJ Maclean/Badger Nation)

Wiley, Athletic Director Barry Alvarez and Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, who appeared in a joint press conference Tuesday to answer questions about the plan, said the campaign's emphasis is taking a positive approach to solving problems of negative fan behavior on game day Saturdays.

"If we are going to keep this a positive part of our community, then we need to address these problems," Cieslewicz said. "[This] promotes a positive way to appreciate the game, appreciate the town."

One of the most visible aspects of the "Red Carpet" promotion will be a campaign of advertisements and public service announcements in and around the stadium, including a series of ads featuring Badger coaches, athletes and Bucky Badger demonstrating good fan behavior.

A group of volunteers formed by the university will greet fans at the stadium, providing directions and information to visitors. Breese Terrace and the vicinity of the stadium may also see heightened security, though Wiley said he did not have enough information to comment on it.

Alvarez and Wiley said they did not plan to take away from the game day atmosphere, but that they hope to enhance it through the new measures.

"I don't take our fans for granted," Alvarez said. "We don't want to take the electricity out of game day, we don't want to take the fun out of game day. There's a small number of fans who have given it a black eye."

"This campaign is not about the student section chants," Wiley added. "This is more about the overt behavior outside the stadium."

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