Melrose Ave. to see increase in gameday vendors


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Hawkeye tailgaters will notice a handful of more rules than usual at this weekend’s game.

The season-opener marks the first Saturday since Iowa City officials passed an ordinance tightening restrictions on vendors. University officials also say they’ll maintain the amped-up enforcement on tailgaters they introduced last year.

This year, 30 vendors have registered through the city for permits, up from 24 vendors last year, said Doug Boothroy, the director of Iowa City Housing and Inspection Services.

Now vendors are required to purchase a one-time $75 permit, post safety standards, and pass an inspection once setup has been completed. City officials will observe the area Friday night and Saturday morning to ensure regulations are being followed.

Vendors are optimistic about this year’s football season.

“We have been here since 1990,” said Ron Christiansen, the owner of Gameday Iowa. “We will be returning, and we are expecting a fantastic year.”

Following the ordinance, some fans were concerned the fees would keep vendors away.

“It’s a huge loss for everyone ,” said UI sophomore David Quach. “It takes away income, and it’s a big downgrade on the whole Melrose experience.”

But vendors see the new regulations as a way to ensure better business practices.

“By having rules, it will keep away the guys who aren’t always legal and who have been a problem in the past,” Christiansen said. “Having a permit gives you privileges and protects you, and it’s something you want to have. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Other vendors agree.

“It’s better for the legitimate businesses,” said Matt Gerard, the owner of Rage Grafix Signs & Screen Printing.

Jean Walker, a member of the Melrose Neighborhood Association who initially proposed increased measures, did not return phone calls Thursday.

Saturday’s game will also see different safety measures enforced for tailgaters.

Last football season, the UI launched the “Think Before You Drink” campaign, which enforced regulations on post-game alcohol consumption and tailgating. Within two hours of the game’s conclusion, tailgaters were required to leave, and drinking was limited to UI parking lot ramps.

“We are doing everything the same as last year, when it comes to reinforcing laws on tailgaters. We are really enforcing open containers on streets and sidewalks. We are strict on underage drinking, public intoxication, and public urination,” said David Visin, the UI police associate director, who noted other local law-enforcement officers would pitch in. “We are operating the same as last year. There are no changes, so there should be no surprises.”

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