Image via WikipediaSo you are planning on tailgating the game. You’ve got the basics; grill (see our comparison if you should go charcoal or gas), table, chairs, food, drinks, music, etc. But now what? What happens when you get the stadium? Is it just as simple as pulling into a parking stall and starting the tailgate party? It’s not that easy. Here are a few hints and tips from a veteran tailgater to make your tailgate party more enjoyable.
Location is the key to a successful tailgate party. When you first arrive at the stadium, picking you spot is crucial. If your stadium or the parking lot you choose has directed parking or ‘Disneyland style’ parking you may be stuck wherever they put you. If the stadium you are tailgating allows you to park anywhere there are a few tailgating ideas to consider:
Park on the outer edges of the parking lot near the exit gates. This is a veteran tailgating move to ensure a great spot and a good day. The reason why you would choose to park so far away from the stadium is not for the now but for the later. By parking closer to the exits, that will translate into a quicker exit once the game or concert is over. Wouldn’t you rather walk past all the cars stuck in gridlock trying to get out of the parking lot right to your car that just has a few spaces to go in order to get out? You may have to walk a bit farther to and from the game but the time you will save getting out of the parking lot after the game or concert will be huge.
A second reason to park on the outer edges of the parking lot is for easy location of your other tailgating friends. It seems that today everyone has a cell phone and connecting and finding other tailgating friends is a lot easier. Still, wouldn’t you rather spend your time tailgating, grilling or playing a tailgating game than talking someone into the parking lot and giving them landmarks to find you? I can just see it now. ‘Okay John, do you see the big college team flag? Alright, we are three rows behind that flag right next to the RV with the inflatable football player on top. Do you see us? I’m frantically waiving my arms above my head!‘ What a hassle. By getting to the stadium early and getting a spot on the outer edges, your friends will spend more time tailgating with you and less time driving up and down the parking lot looking for you.
So now you have parked on the outer edges of the parking lot. Are all outer parking spots created equal? Not at all. You will want to try to park close enough but not too close to the restrooms / portable toilets. This should be obvious but some may overlook this. You want to park within eye shot of the port-a-potties so you can casually glance over and see how long the line is. By waiting too long, you may be forced to stand in line at peak potty break times. On the other side of the coin, you don’t want to be too close to the restroom for two reasons. One is the stark fact that some of these portable restrooms are not cleaned out as often as we all would prefer. Nothing ruins a good tailgate party like parking right next to a stinky port-o-potty. Also, if you are too close to the restrooms, those waiting in line to use the bathroom could spill into your tailgating area. All this standing around encourages The Moocher to invite him or herself into your tailgate party. Next thing you know, you are running low on beer and food.
Lastly, a good proximity to trashcans, recycling bins and charcoal disposal containers is also a good idea. Nobody likes trash to litter his or her tailgating spot. By being within a short walk of the trashcans will make for a better day partying in the parking lot. You obviously do not want to park right next to a trashcan because you then encounter that same smell and odor problem discussed regarding the portable outhouses. Also, a short walk to the charcoal disposal receptacles can be a great call. Normally you will be walking over your BBQ grill while the coals are still very hot. A long walk to dump them out could be dangerous because you may not have oven mitts or heat resistant gloves to carry the grill. A long walk to dump out your coals could end up burning your hands. A little scouting of your surroundings can be an integral pat of your enjoyment of the game. Imagine not being able to clap your hands for a touchdown or that home run because you are busy nursing a few burnt fingers. Picking the right parking spot can alleviate this potential issue.
Of course these suggestions do not apply to all stadiums and all tailgating experiences. Stadiums differ from city to city but by using these general tailgating ideas and applying them to your favorite sporting venue will greatly increase your chances of tailgating there again.