Over the past week, training camp began across the NFL. The Jets reported to training camp with more questions than answers. Even though the Jets will not be on Hard Knocks there is always enough drama and media following around Gang Green. Just turn on SportsCenter.
From the release of information regarding locker room issues to the Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow so called “QB controversy”, the cameras will keep rolling through Jets training camp. Let’s face it, the Jets provide more drama than TNT.
The veterans need to let what happened months ago slide off their back and get down to business. If Santonio Holmes, Mark Sanchez, and the other starters want to look ahead to the 2012 season, they need to forget about how the 2011 season ended. The incoming rookies need to be led by the veterans example and act as a cohesive unit.
But as much prep work the Jets need to do, so do the fans. Why should fans do prep work? What could possibly be so important that fans need to do prep work for the 2012 season.
It’s called tailgating.
Majority of you are probably thinking all one has to do is pack food, beer, and a grill. Then drive to the stadium, find a spot, set up and enjoy.
Sure, for the basic one timer this is a great idea. But to the experienced season ticket holder who makes a day of tailgating, there are many steps taken for the quintessential tailgating experience.
Before MetLife Stadium & parking permits, one would be able to arrive as early as they wanted to. At the old Giants Stadium, my wife Gina & I would get there as early as 7 AM before a 1 PM game. A few others would arrive before us. We made a day of it, breakfast and lunch before the game. Everything packed the night before and finding a prime spot the next day.
The best part about arriving at least 6 hours before kickoff was that there were no employees at the entry gates. One could drive to their stated parking destination and not pay $20.
I am 37 and I talk about 5 years ago as if I was referring to 1943. Like technology, everything seems to be moving faster these days.
Some groups already established like L7 Tailgate, Dave Fier and the group at L5, and “Flagman” Frank Conway staked their clam the minute they were first allowed into the newly established MetLife lots. They get there early enough to the same location to ensure there is room needed to support their tailgating experience for everyone involved.
MetLife Stadium is set up according to your parking permit. The more you pay for it according to its list price, the closer to the stadium you are. This could play a factor in your tailgating. The farther you are, the earlier you may have to end your tailgate.
This is why the Jets have preseason games, to work out the kinks before the season starts. Same should go for those wanting the best tailgating experience during the season.
First off, not many die hard season ticket holders attend preseason games. One could go and scout every location needed. To go from colored lot to colored lot is not easy, but it can be done. Attend one or two preseason games and you will find your prime spot for the season.
By viewing the map, the areas that fill up first are the outlined black areas in each parking section. Look at is as real estate while tailgating. You can have a small plot to host a tailgate and not have to compete with drivers looking for a place to park.
Many campers, diesel trucks, and u-hauls tailgate on the “outer rim”(Star Wars reference). “Flagman” Frank Conway has room to fly his 546 flags this way. If there is a section of concrete or grass that can be occupied, those will go first.
Next to go are the parking lot lights with the lot location on it. Hence the L7 Tailgate and Dave Fier with L5. Get a bunch of friends to park side by side and in some cases, on the opposite side as well to have a central hub for tailgating. Some of the guys at L5 have a fun and entertaining way to mock the opposing team each game day as someone drives through their tailgate.
Once the outside rim and the lot markers are gone it all spreads out from there. The prime spots are usually gone in about an hour. This is why many line up at least 1-2 hours before the gates are opened. They know by waiting, even for that long, you can guarantee yourself a prime location.
Relax, one does not have to line up as early as fans did to watch Peyton Manning practice for the first time with the Denver Broncos.
Just keep in mind the larger your tailgate, the earlier you want to arrive to secure a spot that can hold not just all the people, but what everyone brings with them. So act like Indiana Jones and choose wisely.
August is a great time to get those needed essentials for tailgating. Many stores view August as the end of summer. So many tailgating essentials for grilling or barbecuing will be available for a discount. One can find coolers, utensils, charcoal towers, certain portable grills, and more for prices lower than some expect. Stores would rather sell them for a deep discount than not sell them at all.
One item that is an essential for any tailgate is a pop up tent. They come 10’x10′ standard and usually start around $95. It comes it handier than an umbrella in rainy situations. Keep your grill and food dry so your tailgate can continue in any weather. Many put them over the back of their car so friends always have a dry place to stand. Trust me, if it rains and you do not have one, you will wish you did.
Other items like chairs, tables, flags, inflatables, air horns, fire pits, flat screen TV’s, satellite dishes, couches, end tables, or whatever else makes your tailgate a memorable one is up to you. I provide the basics.
Maybe a future article will focus on the more extravagant and stranger tailgates out there. I have pictures on some and they will definitely make you laugh.
One could use the above guidelines for either the Jets or Giants home games. The parking doesn’t change. Only the fans tailgating.