Today the Jets returned home to the Meadowlands to face the Green Bat Packers. It was one of the better days for tailgating. After the abysmal rain and hail from the Monday night game a few weeks back, today was a relief for many. Not just great weather, but there were an abundance of great tailgates. Seemed there were a ton of set ups, large and small. Sixto and I passed by so many that we were invited to stop by and share in their partying. But we were on a tight schedule with planned interviews and to find some we had interviewed over the past few years, Also seems some are coping with fewer friends since some did not purchase a PSL while others just tailgate separately now.
We arrived around 8 AM over to the Sheraton across from the stadium to park and then cross over Route 3 to the stadium parking. I did that the first game as it was close and did not cost anything. Man did that change. It appears StubHub now charges $25 for off site parking there and provides a shuttle bus to get across. I told the parking attendant I was meeting someone at the hotel and he waived me in. Saved myself $25 as it is crazy to charge parking at every off site location independently. The hotel next door was charging $20 and many business locations off Route 120 were charging parking at their locations. Seems many are taking advantage and trying to make a buck off the Jets and Giants parking situation.
We got there early enough to see the guys from the Smoken Pit setting up and those who prefer to start their tailgate even before many are awake. We made our way over to a bunch who started their tailgate by meeting on Twitter. The L7 Crew sets up in, Lot L7, obviously. A group that met on Twitter as Jets fans and decided to have a Jets tailgate group. Erik Manassey of Jets Twit was there, and Twitter users @L7Tailgate, @JetsBoy, @LaPortal, amongst others. They have a certain food I really wanted to try, but did not have. They call it the “Rex Ryan” A hot dog, wrapped in a cheeseburger, wrapped in bacon. I brought along a Vytorin AND a Lipitor just in case. We will be going back to try that and get some words with them as to how Twitter has helped improve their Jets game day experience.
After there we started talking with a gentleman who was telling me about his PSL issues. Turns out, the Jets moved his PSL payment due November 1st to next year. To try and make it easier to sell them, they pushed off peoples payments to next year in order to sell the off faster. Now this is just one annual payment. But this is something that will not happen again. The Jets made certain concessions not just to help fans with payments, but to make it easier on them to offload the PSLs. The Jets want to come across like they care about their fans, but the fans think differently from what they tell me. This fan also told me his friends were coming soon and one was a guy named Kevin who drove a Jets hearse. I met Kevin during the Baltimore game and could not wait to see him again. Also coming was long time season ticket holder Ken ikowski, who I have interviewed over the past few years. It is amazing who you run into in the parking lot.
Sixto and I were on a schedule and we spent some time with Ken and Kevin as they pulled in for a bit. Always fun to see what Kevin puts in the casket in the hearse. Now I was not expecting to see some old faces from the Jets Pack over by where Ken was tailgating. It seems one of the Jets Pack founders Caesar and a few others set themselves up over there, not where Richie and a few others were set up some weeks back. Seems Cesar never got a straight answer from Richie about where to set up and many tailgate where Cesar has been setting up. Cesar told me about 80% of the old Jets Pack did not buy a PSL, they did not feel it was worth the investment. So they get about 10-15 per game now, a large drop. Where I saw Richie set up there was maybe about three or four. The PSLs took this longtime group and separated them to a point where their game day tailgating experience is no longer the same. Cesar looked like it was not as enjoyable anymore.
By this time we had a scheduled interview with Don LaGreca. Don does the Jets pregame and post game show on 1050 ESPN Radio along with New York Jets alum Greg Buttle. Don is also on the Michael Kay show on 1050 during the week. Now they used to broadcast outside Gate D of the old stadium. Made it easy to walk right up and talk with them. With the new stadium, one has to present their ticket just to be able to walk around outside the stadium. Since I am not a ticket holder, I had to wait outside. Also, since i have no media credentials as Bruce Speight would say” I am technically not the media”. I could not get even close to inside. I called Don and he was able to do the interview before going inside which was great. Always a plus to get some face time with a broadcaster who not just has face time with fans but hears from them while on the air. He does provide a unique perspective. I wish more in the media/broadcasting industry would be as open as Don. I have tried contacting Mike Francessa and got nowhere.
We met up with Mary Lou Wilson and her son Tommy Jr. I have written about Tommy Wilson in the past. He was one of the more die hard Jets fans I have met. Tommy won a Visa contest to represent the Jets in the Hall of Fame and passed away last year unexpectedly. Mary Lou thought about giving up the seats but knew Tommy would not have wanted that. Last year was a hard season but this year is different. Once again, many people who used to tailgate with them at 13A are not there. Some did not get PSL’s, others do not have the right parking permits, while others feel it is not the same. For the remainder of tailgating last year, it was very somber without Tommy. He was the nucleus that held that tailgate together. Tommy Jr; got a tattoo to remember his father, even though his father did not like tattoos. I will have more about Tommy this week along with more about my day in the lot.
We made it back to Ken and his friends not too much later. Ken had 6 seats in the lower section. He opted out of being a PSL holder. Having two kids in college takes precedent over the PSLs. But that does not stop him from cheering on the Jets. He does still attend away game and pays less for a ticket there than at the Jets home. Ken has paid anywhere from $25-$50 for a seat in Buffalo, New England, Miami, Cleveland, and other stadiums around the league. He would rather pay the travel to take members of his family than the $120 a seat plus to attend a Jets home game. He said with PSL costs and tickets one can attend an away game for less. Even Ken’s friends who he tailgated with ofor years opted out of returning for another season. Ken would never consider being a season ticket holder again.
I also found the Jets Nuts and where they had moved their bus too. They are on their 4th bus and may not make it back next year. A lot more stuff to cover later this week about today. It seems many people I have talked with in the past are not liking their tailgating situations. To many, that experience alone made them want to come to the games. Thre are many who are displaced and feeling like the team only cared about the PSLs. Many would have liked the old parking structure. The only ones who like it now are the ones who did not enjoy tailgating. Maybe if the Jets took the right steps in the past and had an employee who was a liaison between them and the fans, things could have gone smoother. Teams need to realize tailgating helps people decide weather to buy tickets or not.
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