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Tailgate host weighs revenue boost vs. health risks on Badger game days

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Dozens of businesses on Regent Street near Camp Randall turn their parking lots into tailgate zones on Badger football game days, but as coronavirus cases surge, some businesses say the extra revenue boost is not worth the health risk. 

Samuel Brown, vice president of Rocky Rococo, is concerned about reopening his tailgate spot for football fans in the midst of a pandemic. 

“It’s almost overwhelming to think about how you would conduct a tailgate,” said Brown. 

Brown finds himself in a tough position as his businesses, like many others, could really use the revenue boost of hosting a tailgate for fans as COVID-19 continues to interrupt sales.

“On one hand if fans don't show up, we lose out on the revenue and on the flip side, if they do show up, we have a lot of health concerns to worry about,” he said.

Health professionals are advising against hosting tailgates because they attract large groups of people and usually alcohol is involved, which Dr. Jeff Pothof, UW Health Chief Medical Officer, called a recipe for disaster.

"It’s not the best decision where you will have people annoyingly remove their face covering, don't socially distance and that itself is an exceedingly risky thing to do right now,” said Pothof.

Brown said even if tailgates are allowed and could be socially distanced, he still believes it might not be work risking his health and the health of his employees.

Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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