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How a love of Dino Babers has expanded ‘Spartacuse’s’ tailgate

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Nestled behind Marshall Square Mall on every Syracuse game day is a white tent draped over a variety of SU gear, expected from a normal tailgate. There’s a cooler stamped with a sticker from the 1994 season, two Orange lawn chairs and a couple of SU-themed blankets hanging down from the roof.Watching over everything is a poster of head coach Dino Babers’ smirking face. An unavoidable, 4-year-old banner is an homage to the head coach for injecting life into the SU fanbase.“That’s the Dino Babers lounge,” said Kurt Pomerenke, a realtor living in Oswego. “It’s the focal point of the whole tailgate. We always make sure it’s here.”The lounge inspired a multi-pronged tailgate with upward of 50 people coming every week, including former SU softball stars Alicia Hansen and Faith Cain. Pomerenke, otherwise known as “Spartacuse,” arrives between five and seven hours before kickoff every week to craft the best game day experience possible.A routine tailgater since 1982, Pomerenke used to tailgate in the SUNY-ESF parking lot. In 2015, the same year that Babers took over, the group moved to the South lot. Pomerenke’s tailgate isn’t the only one to highlight Babers, as one on Skytop features a 10-foot long “Dino-saur.” Along with friends Brian Haessig and Mike Morschauser, the tents have expanded from a small tailgate to the “largest game day tailgate on campus,” Haessig claims.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Dino Babers lounge is the “focal point” of the whole tailgate, Kurt Pomerenke said. His poster hangs to pay homage to his revitalization of Syracuse football. Corey Henry | Photo EditorComponents of the Babers lounge are on a list that someone must bring for every game, home and away. It includes an electricity generator, a high-definition television (which usually airs full-game highlights from the 2017 Syracuse win over Clemson), stereo, space heater, grill and an orange grill-turned-bar.“We just want our tailgate to be something that everyone wants to be a part of,” Haessig said. “Everyone is accepted in the Dino Babers lounge.”Adjacent to the lounge, perhaps even more eye-catching than Babers’ poster, is a 40-foot tall inflatable human tube. The tube, which dances across the sky, arms flying in every direction with the wind, is noticeable from the intersection of University Ave. and Waverly Ave. two blocks away.In the summer after the 2018 season, Haessig and Pomerenke said they were “ginned up” after Syracuse had just won 10 games for the first time since 2001, its first winning season under Babers. Sitting by a bonfire one night, the two stumbled upon the inflatable attraction on Amazon. After a short deliberation over whether to purchase the 20- or 40-foot one, the two decided they’d split the larger one: $100 each. For 2019’s first home game against Clemson on Sept. 14, it was ready.“That’s what happens when you get drunk and go on Amazon,” Haessig said.The tailgate moved to the south lot on University Ave. in 2015. Corey Henry | Photo EditorNext to the inflatable 40-foot tube is a table of SU memorabilia including Donovan McNabb and Marvin Harrison beanie babies.In front of the tailgate is a series of vintage Orange helmets from the 1990s and a blue one from 2015, covered with silver scribbles from front-to-back. They’re from the end of the first season that Pomerenke moved to the south lot. After SU defeated Boston College on a last-second Cole Murphy field goal, Pomerenke met the team after the game and got everyone to sign the helmet, including Babers.“That year was the first year that we kinda knew this whole thing might be real,” Pomerenke said.Last season brought more people to Pomerenke’s tailgate, too. Once, a few Canadians came across Pomerenke’s tailgate — with his ear-trembling Metallica playing and collection of alcohol, from Tito’s to Patron to Cuse Juice. Given that SU football and Babers have such strong ties to Canada, the diehard SU fans welcomed them aboard.They show up unexpectedly, like Syracuse’s upset of Clemson two years ago. The lone Canadian flag in a sea of Orange memorabilia rests on top of Babers’ lounge shows them where to go.“Who knows when they’re gonna show up?” Morschauser said on Oct. 18. “They might show up today.”Kurt Pomerenke is also known as ‘Spartacuse’ and is a realtor living in Oswego. Corey Henry | Photo EditorHours before SU played Pittsburgh, Pomerenke stood in front of the tents with an orange vuvuzela-type horn in his right hand. With the inflatable tube flailing its arms over him, he gripped the small instrument with his orange lacrosse gloves and exhaled. It’s a weekly tradition.A few seconds later, he blew into the horn again, attracting glares from everyone in the lot.“Spartacuse!” one of his friends yelled.The game wouldn’t kick off for another three hours. More than half the people who were coming hadn’t shown up yet but Pomerenke had no plans of slowing down. As a tailgater since 1982, he watched a program-changing 1987 national title team and upsets over Nebraska and Penn State. He’s seen McNabb sling touchdowns and Dwight Freeney crush quarterbacks.And now, he sees the same spirit in Babers.“He’s bringing it all back,” Pomerenke said. “That’s why we do this.” Comments Published on October 22, 2019 at 11:57 pm Contact Adam: adhillma@syr.edu | @_adamhillmanlast_img read more