So much of the focus of tailgating is always on the actual party in the parking lot. But when it comes right down to it, the reason why you are tailgating is because you are going to be attending a game or concert later. Unless you are grilling and chilling in an abandoned parking lot somewhere, you will eventually be packing up and heading inside to your event, thus the tailgate party will come to an end. It is this time of the tailgate that we would like to focus on today. Because all too many times we make a mistake or are careless once we leave our parking spot.
Fold in side mirrors – This might seem like a small suggestion but it will save you big money and big headaches in the long run. By simply folding in your side mirrors you reduce the amount of space between your vehicle and the one parked on either side of you. Typically people will walk between cars in order to get to and from the stadium. Typically people have had a few beers when they are doing this. People who have had a few beers don’t typically walk in the straightest of lines. So that means your side mirrors will get bumped quite a bit and could get broken. By tucking them in before turning off the engine right as you get to the parking lot and park will help reduce this hazard and could save you money down the road from having to get them replaced if broken.
Make sure grill is cool – How many times a year do we post videos or news articles about some knucklehead who left his charcoal grill out and too close to his car? More than we would like. Even worse, the amateur tailgater who thinks placing his $20 hibachi underneath his engine while still hot is a great way to hide it from potential thieves. No matter if you grill on propane or charcoal, make sure the grill is completely cool before packing it away. If using charcoal, if still hot, douse the coals with a lot of water to put the fire out. Sure it is messy but it is better to do that than come out after the game to find your car has been incinerated along with the other four cars parked on either side of yours.
Lock your vehicle but don’t arm your alarm – Never would we suggest leaving your car unlocked but in a stadium parking lot we suggest locking your car but not setting your car alarm. Here is our rationale. No matter where you are, at home, at work, at the grocery store, etc., and you hear a car alarm going off somewhere, what is your first thought? Is it, “Oh my God, someone’s car is getting stolen or broken into!”? Or is it, “Someone must have accidentally hit the panic button while trying to unlock their car or the car was bumped by someone walking by.”. Hardly ever do we think a car is being stolen when a car alarm is audible. Also, most car alarms sound the same, In a parking lot full of cars, how will you know that it is your car that the alarm is going off. Lastly, you will be inside the stadium a pretty good distance away from your car. Stadiums are noisy places. Do you really think you will be able to determine if your car alarm is going off while inside?
The reason why we suggest locking your car but not setting the alarm is that car alarms draw their power from your battery. If your car alarm is going off while you are in the game, 1) you won’t hear it, 2) nobody pays attention to them anyway and 3) all it will do is drain your battery. Instead of coming back to your car and wondering why you now need a jump, just double and triple check that your car is locked but forget the alarm.
Have tickets in hand – How many times have you gotten to the gates of the stadium and had this conversation/argument? “I thought you grabbed the tickets!” All too often this is the case and in my many years of tailgating and going to games it never fails that I will pass a group of people frantically checking their pockets and bags for tickets as they are standing outside the stadium gates. We would suggest having a fail-safe routine that includes the tickets. Maybe place the tickets someplace where you will have to pick them up in order to lock the car. Or place them with your hat and jersey you always wear before going inside. Or even better would be designating one person who regularly tailgates with your group to be the designated ticket holder. That way they know it is their responsibility to have the tickets and it just becomes part of the packing up routine of the day.
Leave plenty of time to get through security – Tailgating is great and sometimes can go long. Eventually you are going to go inside the game or concert and those events are going to start on time (concerts not as much). I have never heard an announcement over the public address telling the fans the game is delayed because “we are waiting for the last of the tailgaters to make their way inside.”
Ever since the September 11th terrorist attacks, security at large public places in the United States has increased steadily. With more pat downs and bag checks comes more delays and wait times to get inside the venue. Make sure to budget plenty of time to get to the gates, wait in line to be patted down and get through the ticket turnstiles. It sucks that you may have to pack up your tailgate a little earlier than you had liked but you need to determine you priorities. Is it more important to make it inside on time for the start of your event or is it more important to you to hang out longer and tailgate? Both choices have their merits but also be aware that many stadium parking lots have strict rules on tailgating after kick-off. If you choose to miss some of the game in favor of tailgating longer, you not only will be missing the start of the game but also may be inviting the cops to stop by and pay you a visit.
Those are just a few tailgating ideas for you to follow when the party is over. Feel free to share your tips in the comments section below.