After that first preseason game, I have heard from some fans about “new” stadium policies this season concerning tailgating and when the gates open, and it seems there is some confusion there (ABC 15 apparently did a story on the issue, although I admittedly did not see it). Given all that, I thought it would help for me to ask around here and get some answers. Here’s what I found:
To begin with, the only significant change is when the gates to the stadium open. It used to be two hours before kickoff. Now it is 90 minutes, mostly because barely anyone was going inside during that first half-hour, and given that nothing much was happening – the majority of warm-ups don’t happen until one hour before kickoff.
That has nothing to do with when the parking lots open. The lots still are open four hours before kickoff, as always, to provide plenty of tailgating time. And that, frankly, was always the time intended for tailgating. When the game starts (and, I guess I always figured everyone would have gone inside by then), tailgating is prohibited. John Drum, the VP of stadium operations, said lots continue to be patrolled but the main focus turns to inside the stadium (and 65,000 fans or so). Drum added that all the spots in parking areas require hanged tags that only go to season ticket holders, so it would make sense that all those people would go inside for the game, because those without tickets generally wouldn’t have a parking pass.
Another sticking point with some seems to be post-game, but again, that policy is the same as it has been. The goal is to clear the parking lot an hour after the game. Like a lot of these policies, it goes back to monitoring alcohol consumption and eliminating excessive drinking, which the NFL as a whole is watching closer than ever before. The thought post-game is that increasing the ability to sit in the parking lot for hours after the game increases the chances of drunk drivers (which is the same reason beer sales are cut off after the third quarter during the game).
I’ll admit, I don’t have a lot of experience with pre- and post-game, since I have to be in the stadium so early and leave so much later. And I get why these things are an issue with some fans. But I wanted to at least lay out the thought process from those who are shaping these policies (which can officially be found here) so everyone can understand what’s up.
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