Recently I was contacted by a cable television series. They are about to do their first episode on tailgating. They saw my article on Football Reporters Online and the work I have done at Jets games, filming my documentary. The producer wanted to know what they needed to do to shoot there and the best location to park. I helped him along as best I could as they are going to a Giants game. Same parking lot, different surroundings. Seems everyone wants to know the best location not just for tailgating, but for filming at the stadium.
Now before and after finding the best tailgating location there is other work to be done. Deciding on what to bring and what kind of set up a tailgate will have. Now depending on the size of your tailgate, this can either be easy or complicated. Some tailgaters do not bother with logistics. They just bring a grill, cooler, chairs, and maybe a radio for other games and that’s it. Others go above and beyond, creating a small dwelling or village to satisfy the masses they bring to their tailgate.
Last time I talked about location. One can set up anywhere. The concrete dividers and islands can obviously hold any size tailgate. I have seen buses unload to grand set ups down to two guys with a grill and some chairs. Any size tailgate works there. If setting up in the lot itself, one needs to have a tighter and organized set up. Cramming everything into one spot, maybe two could make it very cramped. Depending on what you bring will determine where you should set up.
Every tailgate should have certain essentials. Items that go beyond a grill and cooler. These days, a pop up canopy tent is becoming a necessity. Why? For several reasons. Provides great shade on hot days. On rainy days, not only does it protect you but it also covers the grill so those steaks and burgers can cook evenly. With side coverings, one has protection during windy rain and snow days. The side panels cost extra, but are worth it during the bad elements. When tailgating in groups, having tents side by side provide more space and room for all to be dry. Some tents cost under $65, but it may be flimsy. Better quality ones start around $100 providing sturdier covers.
When dealing with coolers, always have more than one. Food & beverages should be packed separately. Never know if prepared foods, meats, or anything that leaks may get over other items. Cleaning items off may be an easy way around it. But reaching in for a drink and grabbing a chicken leg may not satisfy that thirst. Being able to lift the lid and see the varieties of beer, soda, wine, water, it a lot easier than moving a leaking steak off the bottle tops. Plus the bigger coolers can be used as extra seats. Never know who may stop by.
Some seem to go above and beyond, bringing their whole living room to the game. I have seen couches lined up on top of rugs with coffee tables. Many will bring their flat screens and hook them into cable TV dishes to watch all the games. Some will bring whatever amenities from home to make their tailgate a little more comfortable and pleasing to the eye. If you are one of the very lucky few to have a Winnebago or trailer, some manage to have a luxury home on wheels to tailgate with. Many just have the necessities in their trailer: small cooking area, place to sit, tv, refrigerator, Jets memorabilia, & maybe a small bathroom.
One of the most important decisions one will make is what type of grill to bring and how many. Many regular tailgaters invest in the Thermos Grill-2-Go by Char-Broil. Easy to travel with, large cooking surface, easy to clean, and compact design make it an ideal tailgate companion. Abel to pack it into a trunk or back seat and open wide to cook anything you can think of. The old staple will always be charcoal grills. There are places to dispose of the coals, but many opt to let them cool off on the ground in the parking lot.
Some tailgates will have more than one grill depending on the size of the crew. Others opt to bring grills or BBQ pits large enough to cook a Fred Flintstone brontosaurus style steak. Many cook their food at different intervals. Know what you want to cook when. Start with the burgers and dogs and then work on the items that take longer like steaks, chops, chicken legs, kabobs, and whatever else one deems worthy. Give yourself enough time to clean the grill and cool it down so one does not miss kick off.
This are a plethora of other options to make your tailgate better. I just provide some of the basics. I could write about countless other options, perhaps I will in the near future. There should be enough of a basis to build your tailgate on. These options will come in handy for those attending Sunday’s match up between the Jets and San Diego Chargers. This is LT’s first game against his former team so it will be entertaining. Get there around 8 AM when the gates open to give yourself maximum tailgating time to make the whole day entertaining.