Predictions On Tailgating for 2010

crystal-ball Okay, so I am late to the “predictions for 2010 party” but keep in mind I am fashionably late. We are 12 days into the new year (some are arguing this is a new decade while others say that starts next year… whatever) and it is time for a little amateur prognostication for the coming year.

Now I am not saying that all of these are going to come true, but based on the trends I have seen over the years, these seem to be likely scenarios. And just for fun, how about a prediction that really goes out on a limb? So without further delay, here are the Predictions On Tailgating for 2010

Tailgating times will get smaller and restrictions will grow – I hate to break the news to you but this is one prediction I hope I am dead wrong on. Whatever you want to point the finger at, the trend lately has been to open up the parking lot gates later and later and closer and closer to kick-off. Whether it is irresponsible drinking or acing like a complete jackass inside the stadium, tailgating is taking the blame for being the lighter fluid that ignites bad fan behavior. Those in a position of power see tailgaters as more of nuisance than an asset to the overall game day experience. With every hour they give you to tailgate, that is an hour you won’t be hungry or thirsty to pay for their overpriced concessions. So if you want this one to not come true, don’t act like a drunken moron when you go inside and give them a reason to kill your tailgating time.

Miami_Dolphins_custom_grill_001More tailgating products will be introduced utilizing the 2″ tow hitch – With more and more trucks and SUVs now parked in the garages and driveways of America, most of those vehicles come equipped with the standard 2″ tow hitch receiver. With so many cars and trucks on the road with this capacity, tailgating product manufacturers will continue to fill this space with tailgating specific products. We’ve already seen The Margaritaville Grill, the Take-a-Seat, the SportMast, the Bubba Keg Grill, the Tailgate PartyMate, the Tow Hitch TV and the Party-a-Cargo all use the tow hitch receiver as a way to create more space inside your vehicle by putting something outside of it. With so many vehicles able to support these items that use the hitch receiver, companies will fill the void with more products.

(Editor’s Note: My only hope is that many of these product manufacturers create new products that are compatible with previously released tailgating gear. There is only 2″ receiver ona  vehicle so to use two of these items a dual-hitch adapter needs to be used. Many of the existing products can not be used in concert with each other if using a dual-hitch receiver. Maybe future products will take this into consideration.)

Struggling college football programs will make tailgating more enticing in order to attract more fans to the games – We all know the college football powerhouses like Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Penn State, etc. have great tailgating and tremendous fan support. In fact, Auburn was roundly criticized this past season for having a pay service for tailgating on campus. Many argued that the best tailgating spots were reserved for this service and somehow the university was getting a cut of the action. Baylor on the other hand, not a traditional football powerhouse, has made it easier on tailgaters. By offering to provide a pop-up tent, free electric power and free cable TV hook-up all within a 900 square foot space enticed more people to come and tailgate. More tailgaters translates into more fans in the stands. Look to see other football programs desperate for more fans in the stands to make tailgating a more appealing endeavor in order to put more butts in the seats.

binge-drinkers.jpgMore tailgating games will come out that target binge drinkers – Like it or not, many people view tailgating as an outdoor version of a frat party. Because that mentality permeates those young adults that just finished college and now are tailgating NFL games, binge drinking is still a huge part of tailgating. Those same college graduates that had a cool binge drinking contraption they designed and used in college are now trying to bring them to the marketplace. And with the internet so prevalent, opening up an online store is fast, cheap and easy. So even if the product might only have a small niche interest, they will target the tailgating public as a way to get their company to expand.

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 – In years past, product manufacturers would create a great product designed for use outdoors and would target tailgaters as an afterthought. There is a reason why manufacturers call it a Camping Stove and not a “tailgating stove”. That’s because it was designed for camping originally and then, oh yeah, it dawned on them it could be used for tailgating too. In 2010 that will change. Many companies will be rolling out tailgating specific products and they will be labeled and marketed in such fashion. Also, since tailgating is unique in that items need to be small, lightweight, compact and easy to set up and take down within a three or four hour window, these products designed specifically for tailgating will meet the demand.

Jimmy_FootballMajor Fortune 500 companies will target the tailgating consumer with expensive ad campaigns – We just started to see if this past football season and expect next football season to be even bigger. Large corporations are now seeing tailgating as a legitimate past time and not just something people do on the fringe before the game. They have figured out that tailgaters are not only passionate about their teams but about grilling, eating and having a good time before the game. Why do you think brands like Bud Light used Jimmy Football to try and sell beer to tailgaters? Toyota had a running commercial sponsorship during NBC’s presentation of Sunday Night Football called “Great Moments in Tailgating History”. More companies will look at the success of the Bud Light and Toyota campaigns and will turn their advertising eyes towards tailgating. And it won’t just be for football season either. I am expecting companies to target baseball tailgaters as well.

One NFL Stadium will ban any consumption of alcohol in the parking lots after an ugly incident covered in the media occurs – This may be going a little out on a limb but given past history, this is plausible. We’ve seen alcohol fueled riots prior to the Indiana University/Ball State game in 2008 that got a lot of media coverage. Many stadiums are blaming the alcohol consumed prior to games as the reason fans behave so poorly. All it will take is some major catastrophe to happen at an NFL stadium that involves drunk fans posted up on YouTube and smeared all over the 24-hour news cycle for this to happen. The outrage of public opinion will force a knee jerk reaction to ban all pre-game drinking in the parking lots much like they do at PNC Arts Center prior to certain types of concerts that attract a younger demographic. The New York Jets did not sell alcohol at all during the regular season finale at Giants Stadium this season so this could be a real possibility. If you read the back of your parking pass at Angels Stadium it says  consumption of alcohol is prohibited even though most of the police officers roaming the lots look the other way unless you are making a spectacle of yourself. This prediction may not be too far fetched and all it will take is someone to get hurt badly to draw attention to it.

Now that you have read mine, what are your predictions for tailgating in 2010? Leave a comment below and share what you think will happen in the coming year.