Early in January of this year I put together a Predictions On Tailgating for 2010 post trying my hand at predicting the future. So as 2010 comes to a close in less than a week I thought it might be fun to take a look back and see how well we did at predicting the future.
PREDICTION NO. 1 – Tailgating times will get smaller and restrictions will grow.
Verdict = True
Probably the biggest and most controversial proofs of this prediction came in Cleveland this year. The famed Muni Lot in Cleveland has been home to some of the most famous and infamous tailgate parties for decades. Browns fans get there early to get their favorite spot and even though the team has been a disappointment more than it has been a city treasure, the tailgaters in the Muni Lot revel in the fellowship and atmosphere that is pre-gaming before a Browns game. The Muni Lot gates would open at 4 am and many Browns tailgaters would be there waiting for the gates to open. This year, sadly, Cleveland announced the gates to the Muni Lot would open at 7 am and on top of that the parking fees would be going up. Yup, you guessed it…. they claimed the fee hike was to cover rising costs in providing services; services that were now being provided for three less hours. The Browns fans were so outraged they even started a petition to get the Muni Lot to reopen at 4 am to avoid traffic congestion and basically to allow the fans to enjoy the tailgating longer.
Another example of how this prediction came true was the New Tailgating Rules For College World Series. No longer could you save spots for friends or even pick your spot where you wanted to park. CWS tailgaters were directed to areas of the parking lot by staff and lot attendants. Another example would be “Pinto Ron”, the famous Buffalo Bills tailgater was told by the league he could no longer hold his rowdy and sometimes irreverent style tailgate party in the Bills parking lot. Upon threatening to move his party across the street, the Bills management asked him to stay but told him he needed to tone it down including not offering shots of liquor out of the thumb hole of his famous bowling ball.
Verdict = True
As much as we tailgaters love to party in the parking lots, gear manufacturers love to produce goods that use the tow hitch receiver on the backs of our vehicles. In 2010 we discovered more tailgating gear designed for use in the 2″ tow hitch including the Tow Hitch Stripper Pole, the Auto-mo-brella and the Fan E Flag just to name a few.These products were added to the long list of already existing tailgating gear such as grills, flagpoles, tables and shelter that already used the 2″ tow hitch.
PREDICTION NO. 3 – Struggling college football programs will make tailgating more enticing in order to attract more fans to the games.
Verdict = True
We saw it in 2009 with Baylor offering tailgaters increased parking lot amenities like electricity and cable TV. Coincidentally their football team was invited to a Bowl game in 2010 for the first time in a long time. We’re not sure if they are related, but tailgaters should take the credit for the team’s turnaround. 2010 saw more football programs embrace tailgating as a viable and desirable asset to a positive college football experience. UC Davis started test driving limited tailgating to see what kind of a response they would get. Georgia State just started up their football program from scratch but the university and alumni embraced tailgating outside of the Georgia Dome as a regular part of the game day experience.
Verdict = Neutral
There’s always going to be binge drinking games that target tailgaters but I did not see an inordinate amount of products introduced in 2010 that targeting the binge drinking tailgaters of the world. So because there was no increase nor decrease this comes out a neutral score.
PREDICTION NO. 5 – Companies will introduce products that are specific to tailgating and not just products that can also be used for camping, fishing and other outdoor activities.
Verdict = Neutral
In today’s down economy, companies are trying to market to whatever demographic will buy the most of their product. We did see some products that were far and away aimed at tailgating but they also had other functions. For example, the RACC is clearly a tailgating canopy that extends off the rear of your vehicle making it ideal for tailgating. That said, it could also be used to go fishing and camping or at a picnic in the park if you can park close enough. There are other examples out there but we did not see a ton of products that only had tailgating uses and were not versatile enough to be used elsewhere.
PREDICTION NO. 6 – Major Fortune 500 companies will target the tailgating consumer with expensive ad campaigns.
Verdict = True
2009 proved to be the year that Madison Avenue embraced tailgating as a viable way to market and sell products. That trend continued in 2010 although new companies jumped in with both feet this year. Most notably was Ford Motor Company with their BCS Tailgate campaign. Ford advertised heavily the opportunity to enter and win a tricked out Ford F-150 complete with a pull out grill and folding flat screen TVs along with tickets to all four BCS Bowl Games. Kingsford Charcoal teamed up with sports programming monolith ESPN to present “Tailgate Week” which encouraged fans to tailgate in their backyard even if they didn’t have tickets to the game. Clearly these companies are attempting to tap into the popularity and appeal of tailgating beyond just the hardcore few that do it week in and week out in the stadium parking lots.
Verdict = True… sort of
Instead of saying “NFL Stadium” I should have just said “sports stadium” and I would have nailed this one too. If you recall, I stated that this was a prediction that was going out on a limb and I was hoping I was dead wrong on. Unfortunately I was right on this one although it happened in Major League Baseball and not in the NFL.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have completely banned tailgating altogether and this policy was implemented on opening day. Not only was tailgating banned but LAPD Officers were issuing tickets for those who lingered too long near their cars after parking.
Although tailgating was not banned at an NFL stadium this year, it was severely limited and restricted down in Houston. Following some ugly alcohol soaked fights between Texans and Cowboys fans showing up on YouTube and local TV stations, the Houston Texans management decided to restrict tailgating to those who had tickets to the day’s game and also issued tailgating passes. Tailgaters without a ticket and without a tailgate pass were not permitted to enter the parking lots at all. So although there was not a complete and total ban on tailgating at an NFL stadium, an ugly incident that occurred in the parking lot severely changed the landscape of how tailgating was treated moving forward.
After taking a look at how we fared on predicting the future, I think we went 5-0-2. Now if only I could have that kind of success rate on predicting college football games against the Vegas spread I might have a career in sports betting. But then again, I think I will stick to tailgating predictions where losing my life saving is not in jeopardy.