This Saturday is championship game week. All the major conferences who host a championship game, SEC, Big XII, ACC, all will have the game that determines which team will get that coveted BCS Bowl berth. Normally these games are played in larger, neutral sites yet still remain regional to handle the large crowd expected to be in attendance. That means fans of both teams can normally tailgate at the games without traveling a tremendous distance. Unfortunately the ACC has chosen to play its championship game at Raymond James Stadium, a stadium notoriously known for its anti-tailgating policies. Because of Raymond James Stadium’s refusal to open up parking lot gates earlier than 4:30 pm for an 8 pm kick-off, fans from both Georgia Tech and Clemson are boycotting spending any money inside the stadium. I fully applaud this move and would encourage all to do the same.
You may recall an email I received from a reader, Chris, who tailgates before Atlanta Falcons and Georgia Tech games. He wrote in and although he personally has not been subject to tailgating restrictions, he believes tailgating has taken on a negative stigma in the media lately. In light of the upcoming ACC Championship Game limited tailgating times, he felt compelled to email again. This time he and other tailgaters are taking action.
I just wanted to send you a quick update that I now understand and feel the pain of tailgating restrictions. This Saturday, I will be traveling to Tampa for the ACC Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. RJ has announced, even with hundreds of Georgia Tech and Clemson tailgaters calling to complain, that they will not open the parking lots until 4:30 pm for our 8 pm game.
We will be boycotting all purchases inside the stadium and have worked with a local business to allow us to use their parking lot. Further, we have asked on our forum boards that everyone stay on the coast or in St Pete and not [in] the city of Tampa. I just wanted to send my thoughts/suggestions. It may be difficult to implement, but boycotting and standing ground can be a simple way to show the size of our community.
I think Chris and other tailgaters are on the right track here. Calling and complaining will do no good unless there is action. We all have heard the cliche, “money talks”. Refusing to buy anything inside Raymond James Stadium will speak louder than any email or telephone campaign.
So if you like tailgating and want to send a message to other conferences and teams that you do not want your tailgating time reduced, please support this boycott. Please resist the urge to buy any souvenirs, nachos, beer, even a bottle of water. BUY NOTHING! If you are thirsty, find a drinking fountain. I am sure they have one or two inside Raymond James Stadium. Just imagine the piles of nachos going to waste and the cylinders of soda going flat because tailgaters refused to buy ANYTHING.
I will take it one step further and also encourage fans of Clemson and Georgia Tech to not spend one nickle inside the city limits of Tampa. Spend your money in St. Petersburg or other cities but not in Tampa. Fill up your gas tanks, eat in restaurants and stay in hotels all outside of Tampa. If the City of Tampa does not get that tax revenue that this game is expected to produce they may place pressure on Raymond James Stadium to be a bit more tailgate friendly.
This issue is larger and extends beyond the ACC Championship Game. You may not be a fan of Georgia Tech or Clemson and your favorite team might not even be in the ACC. This particular boycott may not directly affect you now but it may speak volumes down the road.
We as a tailgating community need to take this seriously and make sure to inform every person who possibly could attend this game to adhere to the boycott. Please pass this message on to anyone and everyone via email, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, message board forums, etc.
You may not care about this particular game on Saturday but you will care when some other team or conference starts taking away your own tailgating time.