Yesterday was the inaugural game for the New York Jets in their new home, the New Meadowlands Stadium. It was a Monday Night Football game that ended in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens 10-9. But before the game even started, many fans were still getting acclimated not just to the new stadium, but to the parking and tailgating as well. With it being a Monday night game starting at 7 PM, it did not leave much time for those coming right from work. Some were able to get the day off while others battled traffic and the incoming elements to get there in one piece.
The start started off great, the sun was out and had a ride schedule to get myself & my friends Paul and Sixto who were helping me film into the stadium. Since I did not invest in a PSL or non PSL seats, there was no way I could park at the Meadowlands. Bruce Speight from the New York Jets mentioned he might be able to get me a parking pass for $25 but that never happened. So Sal & Carmine who run one of the best tailgates was to be our ride into the parking area. Sal & Carmine have been “base camp” while filming the past few years. They have been great and so have the guys who party with them. But since Sal was taking a different route, we had to meet him close to the stadium and they picked us up as we made our way over.
Just trying to find the right sport to enter the parking at the stadium was not too easy, for the first time. A lot of people were waiting on long lines just to get into the parking section they wanted. Depending on the lot you wanted to get into depending on how long of a line you waited in. We were headed into Yellow Lot J and the line was not too long. Some people got into the lot a little early and were asked to leave, then come back. One of Carmine’s friends made it into the lot. They asked him to leave around 1:52 PM and to come back in when it opened, 8 minutes later. Crazy. The thought they were making it easier for everyone to park but people just felt waiting on the lines were stupid.
After we got ourselves set up we decided to get a lay of the new land. Felt weird walking across the parking lot where the old Giants Stadium stood. Was a strange feeling not seeing it there. I saw it come down for weeks in front of my eyes. Just hard to stand on the exact site where it stood and knowing the parking structure was now sinking into the lot. A huge stadium was there just a few months ago. And now, just a basic parking lot. The Green parking where the Club and Suite PSL holders park is the site of where the stadium once stood. I am sure many others feel strange about parking and tailgating on the site of the old stadium.
It seems Weber Grills and Lobel’s of New York have teamed up to give fans an option in tailgating. If there are fans who do not want to bring the grill, food, or even a cooler to the tailgate, Weber & Lobel’s will do it for them. Yes, one can either rent the equipment & buy the raw ingredients or have them cook it for you there. That is, if you do not mind paying $18 for a steak sandwich. It was very pricey, once again it shows the clientele they are catering to at the new stadium. They had all kinds of cuts of meat and chefs who were ready to prepare them all for you. They will offer these services every Jets and Giants home game. Keep in mind their stand is set up between Lots F & G of the Green parking.
From there were toured around the new lots. Not too many people were there yet. Was somewhat empty in many lots until people got out of work. We did however come across some people partying it up and did not care who was around. There was the 40 foot tall inflatable gorilla one fan had purchased off Ken Pikowski that wore his Jets shirt. One tailgate had their own Revis Island complete with Revis and Ravens jerseys. But everyone still had opinions on the PSL’s. Everyone did not like the fact they were used but felt if they wanted to see their team live, in person, they had no other choice. Some were even proud to pay to them and said those who didn’t were f’n morons who were stupid not to since they did.
Paul, Sixto, and I went all the away across to yellow Lot D by Route 120 to visit a guy who had a Jets hearse with a casket in back with a Ray Lewis jersey. Another one not proud to pay for the PSL’s but felt the need to as he wanted to keep coming to the stadium to see the Jets. Seems many who have the cheapest PSL’s thought they did the least of all the PSL evil’s. Seems not many are proud they have them, but still feel fortunate to have kept their tickets. A confusing situation to some. The sky was looking very ominous. The clouds were dark and looking like they were about to open up very soon.
As we were walking back over to Sal & Carmines, I managed to get some words with some Baltimore Ravens fans. They had to endure PSL’s back in the late 1990’s. They instituted them not too long after the Carolina Panthers brought them into the NFL. Seems if you wanted seats 3 rows back from the 50 yard line all one had to pay was $3,000 for a PSL. Higher up in the mezzanine it was $750 a seat. Now this was over 11 years ago but still a bargain. They said for the prices they were asking there was not much of a complaint by the fans. Even the ticket prices were low. But the Ravens fans did feel the Jets and Giants prices were too high and felt sorry for the New York fans. Some ravens fans even sold their PSL’s making a profit. One who had two $2,500 PSL’s sold them off for $8,000 a piece not long after they won the Super Bowl.
The closer we got to Sal and Carmine’s the closer rain was coming. We got pulled over to some Jets fans burning a Ravens hat on their grill. Some Ravens fans came over and thought it was cruel. Come on. That is how fans are. Well, maybe after a few beers. Before the rain started to fall we got some footage of a band playing at one of the tailgates. Seems every year some group has a band playing. We managed to get all the gear away just before the clouds opened up on us. Lightening was coming down pretty close by so we got out of there as fast as we could. Tailgating was cut short by at least an hour and 20 minutes.
As we were walking out to our car parked on the other side of route 3, the lines getting into the stadium were jammed. Seemed no matter what road you came in on there were long lines backed up at different points. Those who came from work or any time after 5 PM had to wait in long lines as the rain poured down. It was coming down heavy at times and I Know it is not a good feeling coming to a game in the rain, stuck in traffic , and you think you will be parking far. But I guess with the new parking some felt that no matter how long they waited, they would have a close enough spot. Unless you had to park over by the Izod Center and had to walk all the way over to the stadium. Guess everyone learned to get there early from now on and try to avoid the lines.
Now that I know the parking lot sections better it will make it easier to find people I would like to go back and interview. Plus, I will be finding out from others their input for the season. I want to see if by the end of the year if the Jets are not living up to expectation, how people feel about their PSL purchases. Will they think they invested in a team that did not live up to their expectations. Will they stand by a team that is all hype and no bite. Only time will tell. One game down and seven to go. Still plenty of time for the Jets to turn it around and give their fans something to cheer about.