Instead of basking in the afterglow of opening the NFL season with a win over the Indianapolis Colts, having a truly legitimate playoff contender in Houston and starting the season 3-1, Texans fans are still fuming over a change in tailgating policy.
The major outcry in regards to this new policy change is two fold. 1) Houston fans are crying foul because they believe this new policy was in direct reaction to the events that occurred surrounding the Texans’ game against the Dallas Cowboys. 2) Many fans in Houston that can not afford season tickets or can not get tickets because they are sold out just want to be a part of the game day atmosphere and now can’t. Add to it the fact that the Texans organization is now selling “tailgating passes”, many believe it is yet another money grab fleecing the tailgaters for more cash.
Although requiring tailgaters to hold a ticket to the event is not new, the way in which the Texans are doing it is short sighted and wrong. For years, many concert venues hosting Jimmy Buffett concerts require proof of concert tickets before entering the parking areas. Jimmy Buffett tailgating has become so legendary that many would show up just to tailgate and gobble up all the parking spots and later arriving, ticket holding tailgaters would not get to park. This is not a new concept but the way the Texans are going about it is all wrong.
First of all, if there was a strain on resources like a lack of parking attendants, overused portable toilets, smaller police to tailgaters ratios, etc. the Texans management should have seen this coming before the 2010 preseason started. The Texans are no longer a struggling expansion franchise that had to win back a fan base still angry over the departure of the Houston Oilers to Tennessee. The team has been showing steady improvement and with winning comes an increase in tailgating. So this issue has been building and apparently the rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys brought it to a head.
Many fans contend that an abnormal increase in fan altercations in the parking lot the day the Texans played the Cowboys was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The Texans’ management had had enough and they implemented this policy swiftly. My problem is that this problem did not happen overnight. It had been building and it came to a head on the Dallas game. Had these executives been doing their jobs, they should have instituted some sort of a policy change that was not done hastily or as a knee jerk reaction in order to gain some positive PR.
Here is what I would have proposed had I been in the Texans’ executive offices. Make the requirement that all fans possessing a game ticket are allowed to enter and park and tailgate. Instead of selling tailgating companion passes for $10 a piece, (clearly another money grab by a greedy NFL franchise in a crappy economy) I would offer season ticket holders the option to apply for non-ticketed, companion tailgating passes that are uniquely bar-coded and limited to four passes per season ticket account. If the limit was set to only 2,000 companion tailgating passes, those who have been season ticket holders the longest get first crack at the passes. Loyalty and seniority will be rewarded just like it is rewarded when it comes to priority in assigning new seat locations for the following season. I would also add in that any tailgating companion passes being sold on eBay, Craigslist, in the local classifieds, via a ticket broker, etc. would be voided for the remainder of the season. This would ensure that long time season ticket holders would not just take the companion passes in an attempt to make money for themselves and would be truly used for friends and family that can not get tickets otherwise.
Anyone that has read this tailgating blog over the years knows that I am a huge proponent of responsible tailgating. But I am also a realist in that I know not everyone is going to drink responsibly and act responsibly while tailgating. Some people who are ill-mannered and the product of poor parenting think tailgating is an excuse to behave inappropriately. Certain games and rivalries tend to bring out this behavior more than others. I hate to use this example but every year when the Raiders visit the Chargers, police and security presence inside and outside the stadium is beefed up. The Raider game is the only game on the schedule where alcohol sales inside the stadium are cut off at halftime whereas other games those sales stop at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Texans management team is smart enough to already know which games on the schedule may require more security or will draw a bigger crowd and they can adjust accordingly.
A question I would ask the Texans management that implemented this policy, what about a fan who is coming to the game with another group of friends but an earlier arriving tailgating has their ticket? I have seen it millions of times in the parking lot where a tailgater will get to the lot after a friend or family member has already staked out a spot. There in the parking lot is where they get their ticket before heading into the game. So with this new policy does that mean the ticket holder will either have to mail or drive over the friend’s ticket prior to the game day to ensure they will be allowed in if they are joining the party later? I’m sure Al Gore would take issue with the increased carbon footprint around Houston because a season ticket holder has to drive all over town to give that week’s game tickets to the appropriate people.
This policy change is a prime examples of what happens when those in powerful positions make decisions hastily and in the interest of appeasing the media. Sometimes the making a change quickly to show you are aware of the problem and you are handling it does not always prove to be the smartest or best solution.
Come on guys. You’ve had years to fix this problem. Fleecing the tailgaters for more money isn’t helping solve the problem or deter bad behavior in the parking lots. All it does is line your overstuffed pockets with money from those who are the most loyal. You still have time to rescind this reactionary policy make things right for the remainder of the season.