From the beginning of September through early February, almost every single Sunday is highlighted by a full slate of NFL action. With each NFL game comes a unique gameday experience, and that experience begins as soon as you arrive on site of the home stadium.
Tailgating is an essential part of the gameday experience; anyone who’s ever attended an NFL game knows that. Whether it’s battling inclement weather in Cleveland or Buffalo, chanting “Who dat?” in New Orleans or fans unifying as the “Red Sea” in Kansas City, each and every NFL game has its own personality. After all, the tailgate is half the fun.
So, I wonder: If tailgating is allowed at every NFL game throughout the regular season and playoffs, why would it be outlawed at the pinnacle game of the season, the Super Bowl?
It sounds crazy, and it most certainly is, but that’s exactly what the NFL has decided: no tailgating will be allowed at Super Bowl XLVIII.
The NFL’s championship game, which takes place on Feb. 2, 2014, will be hosted at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., just outside of New York City. While there’s sure to be snow flurries and cold weather, there won’t be any fans tailgating the game, and that’s just a travesty.
“You will be allowed to have food in your car and have drink in your car,” said Al Kelly, Super Bowl XLVIII committee CEO. “And, provided you’re in the boundaries of a single parking space, you’ll be able to eat or drink right next to your car. However, you’re not going to be able to take out a lounge chair, you’re not going to be able to take out a grill and you’re not going to be able to take up more than one parking space.”
Sounds like a blast, Al. Sitting in the confines of your car and drinking a soda while wishing you had more room to stretch your legs. That is exactly how you should tailgate the biggest sporting event in all of sports.
Note the sarcasm in that last paragraph.
To be blunt, outlawing tailgating at the Super Bowl is an absolute joke, except there’s no punch line.
In 2012, the city of Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl and took over a three-block area of downtown and held a 10-day interactive festival before the game.
Earlier this year, New Orleans hosted the Super Bowl and had a 15,000-square-foot tent for a tailgate party just hours before the game.
At the upcoming Super Bowl in February, there will be lots of snow and fans sitting in their cars, eating ham sandwiches because they won’t be allowed to use a grill.
No atmosphere, no camaraderie, no tailgating. Sounds like quite the pre-game celebration for a sporting event that is watched by over 100 million people across the globe.
Furthermore, fans will not be allowed to park nearby and walk to the stadium, nor will they be able to arrive via taxi or limo, as only vehicles with parking passes will be allowed near the premises.
With only 13,000 parking spots for over 80,000 attendees, fans have two other options: Purchase a $51 bus ticket on the “Fan Express” or take the New Jersey transit to the stadium. Traveling to and from the Super Bowl just outside of New York City was already a difficult enough task to begin with, and the NFL only seems to be complicating this matter.
The NFL has been heavily criticized in recent years for disallowing touchdown celebrations, stifling creativity and has even been dubbed as the “No Fun League.”
Beyond that, the NFL has attempted to make a violent sport “safe” by throwing a yellow penalty flag on just about any defensive hit these days. But we’ll save that topic for another column.
Sure, it will likely be freezing at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2, but if fans wants to turn into icicles while grilling out and playing cornhole, then let them have at it.
That doesn’t seem to be the NFL’s plan, though. Instead, the NFL seems to have their product right on track for less and less fun and excitement by season.
If the NFL sticks with this dictatorship attitude, then maybe in 20 years the Super Bowl will be nothing but a wine and cheese gathering with a flag football game to follow.