UCF students will enjoy expanded entertainment, food and tailgating options this football season.

The Student Government Association’s Knights on the Mall program will feature themed tailgates for each of the Knights’ six home games in the center of Memory Mall. Plans call for each game to feature live music, food, a cooling zone and giveaways. The themes for some of the early games will be announced this summer, and students will help select the themes for the other games.

UCF students and alumni also for the first time will be able to reserve spaces on Memory Mall for their tailgates. Instead of having to show up several hours early to claim a spot, those who make free online reservations will have a guaranteed space waiting for them.

“We encourage all fans to visit the SGA tailgating area and enjoy our expanded entertainment and food offerings before they cheer on our Knights to victory,” said SGA president Weston Bayes and president-elect Cait Zona.

Season Opener: Game Day Activities to Start at 1 p.m.

The student-focused changes will debut Thursday, Sept. 3, when the Knights host Florida International University in the season opener. Game day activities will begin at 1 p.m. – three hours earlier than the usual time for weekday games – to accommodate the 6 p.m. kickoff on CBS Sports Network.

Classes on the main campus, in Central Florida Research Park, at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management and on UCF’s regional campuses will be conducted through noon. Offices at those locations also will close for normal operations at noon in order to allow adequate time for a smooth transition to game day activities.

The time change is only for the FIU game. UCF’s usual weekday game schedule is to conclude classes and university operations at 3 p.m. and begin game day activities at 4 p.m.

‘Knights on the Mall:’ Students, Alumni to Reserve Tailgating Spaces

The Student Government Association, in partnership with the university and Alumni Association, proposed the Memory Mall changes to give students more opportunities for pregame entertainment and food and also to give students and alumni greater access to one of the campus’ prime tailgating areas.

The change will be a convenience to students and alumni who in the past have had to show up several hours early to secure a spot. Now students and alumni who reserve spaces in advance can arrive just as tailgating gets under way, or even after it starts, and they will have a spot waiting for them.

Bayes led the development of the new concept and he worked closely with Zona, who takes office next week.

The Student Government Association’s tailgating area will move from the Student Union side of Memory Mall to the center section, and for the first time will include spaces where student organizations and residence halls can tailgate.

All individual spaces on Memory Mall will now be reserved. Other tailgating spaces on campus will remain available to fans on a first-come, first-served basis.

More details about the game day changes, including the musical acts, game themes and the reservation system, will be provided this summer as they are determined.