MSA senators push to implement “hydration stations” at Memorial Stadium

MSA is hopeful that the increased access to free water will help boost attendance at games.

In an effort to increase student attendance and enhance the Mizzou football gameday experience, MSA senators Ryan Alsop and Chase Mueller have been working to implement “hydration stations” around Memorial Stadium to provide free water for students.

Alsop and Mueller hope to set up two of these stations around the student section of the stadium. According to their descriptions, they will be large tanks of water with several hoses coming out that can squirt water into a student’s mouth or cup. Students will have to present their MU IDs to use them.

The idea arose after Alsop, who serves as an MSA senator for the College of Arts and Sciences and chairman of Student Affairs, attended the 2017 SEC Exchange, a conference that brought student government representatives from 14 SEC universities to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to discuss ideas over the summer.

One of these ideas was providing water to students during football games free of charge.

“Multiple schools we were talking with said, ‘Oh yeah, we provide water for our school,’” Alsop said. “And we came back and were like, ‘What’s one of the things we can do to actually begin 100 percent focusing on students, making sure that you have a better time here and also making sure we represent you the best we can, and one way to do that is make sure you get free water at the game.’”

Alsop and Mueller, an MSA senator representing the College of Education, have been working on the hydration stations project in several different capacities. They are collaborating with Mizzou Athletics as well as Tiger’s Lair. The athletics department has two of these hydration stations at their disposal but only brings them out during games when the temperature exceeds 85 degrees.

That is something Alsop and Mueller hope to change. They are pushing for water to be available at every home football game.

“We just don’t think the temperature outside should dictate how thirsty people are,” Mueller said.

Currently, the cost of a bottle of water in the stadium concession stands is $6 for a liter and $4 for a 20-ounce bottle, according to Levy Restaurants, the stadium’s concessions provider.

There are also multiple water fountains dispersed throughout the stadium that already provide free water. The hydration stations will serve as a supplement to these water fountains.

Tony Wirkus, director of event management and sustainability coordinator for Mizzou Athletics, said there are already a small number of water fountains and water bottle-filling stations and that hydration stations will shorten the lines. Because these tanks are already owned by the athletics department, it will cost very little to put them out. The issue, however, lies in manpower.

“The athletics department [doesn’t] have a problem putting it out there. The only issue is they need volunteers,” Mueller said.

Volunteers are needed to man each station, but gathering these volunteers has been Mizzou Athletics’ largest obstacle so far. Fortunately, that’s where Tiger’s Lair comes in.

Kayla Erney, the graduate assistant for Mizzou Spirit and Tiger’s Lair, met with Alsop and Mueller to discuss this arrangement. While she is optimistic about the organization's’ ability to assume this role, she admits there may be some complications.

“They do have other responsibilities during the games, so their attention does need to be in another place,” Erney said. “But Ryan and I, with MSA, are working together to figure out if we can do some sort of rotation system between MSA and Tiger’s Lair, maybe.”

Sanitation is another concern, with so many fans using these stations every game.

“We’re working hard on sanitation,” Alsop said. “Because you know we had the huge mumps incident, we want to make sure students are sanitary so they’re not touching their mouths to it and everything like that. I believe we’ll also have sanitary wipes and stuff like that just to have that final precaution.”

The biggest motivation behind this is to increase student attendance. Mueller hopes that this initiative will “keep people from coming to games late and leaving early.”

“I think the results they’ve gotten from all those other SEC schools with those hydration stations is that people are staying longer for those real hot games and they really like to think that it’s at least somewhat of a result from having those out,” Mueller said.

Edited by Sarah Hallam | shallam@themaneater.com

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