Even though it’s only the third home game of the year, it’s looking to be a cold one, so I thought it’s time to whip out a winterized edition of Tailgate Tips.
First, for those of you who haven’t heard, there is a new tailgating policy at Fed Ex Field. They had a specific link for it earlier in the year but now they seem to have just tacked it onto the end of the Stadium Guide. It’s really no big deal, but here’s what it says…
Tailgating involves the use of grills, coolers, chairs, tables or other devices that could inhibit pedestrian passage or vehicular access. Activities that do not use any additional space beyond your parking space are permitted.
Tailgating is permitted in all parking lots at FedExField. Use of more than one parking spot for tailgating is permitted only in designated areas.
Fans who wish to tailgate in more than one parking space will be directed to the back of parking lots, where they will be allowed to occupy additional spaces until required for additional vehicles. Fans who wish to tailgate within a single parking spot will be directed to the front of parking lots.
Parking lots open four (4) hours prior to kickoff. Port-o-lets are provided throughout the parking lots.
In order for all guests to enjoy the tailgating experience, we ask that fans follow these guidelines:
- Use of an empty parking space for tailgating is permitted only in designated areas and until such time as the space is needed to park other vehicles.
- Use of an empty parking space for tailgating is not permitted in the Platinum Lots.
- When parking, park your car in one space only and between the white lines.
- Parking permits are to be used for cars only, not for additional tailgating space or storage.
- Be considerate of other guests’ vehicles.
- For the safety of all guests and for emergency vehicle access, please keep all aisles clear.
- Dispose of all trash in proper receptacles.
- Prior to entering FedExField, please extinguish all flames and grills. Ash dumpsters are available throughout the lots for your convenience. Do not place a hot grill in or under any vehicle.
You can see the entire Stadium Guide here. It’s worth looking at if you’ve never been to a game before, and it includes the infamous “Fan Code of Conduct” that the NFL installed a few years ago, which basically means that the Stadium reserves the right to kick you out and take away your tickets, and they’ll hold you responsible for the actions of the guests you bring along with you.
There. Now that the basics are done, let’s look at the issues that come with cold-weather tailgating. It’s going to be cold and wet this weekend, which is just about the worst combination possible when it comes to tailgating. Even Snow is better, since you don’t get soaked nearly as badly. But fortunately there are some things you can do to make the experience more enjoyable and fun.
- Coffee. Coffee is a necessity during cold weather games, especially for a morning tailgate like this weekend. You can get a “box” of coffee at Dunkin Donuts for cheap, and they give you everything you need including cups, sugar, cream, and an insulated box to store the coffee in. It easily serves a tailgating crew of four to six people, depending on how much coffee you drink. Add a little booze into your coffee and you’ve got a nice start to your tailgating day while warming yourself up.
- Warm layers. This is an obvious one, but people forget. Gloves and a hat are a good idea. Later in the year you’ll also be able to find chemical hand warmers that you can stick in your gloves and in your shoes, but they might be harder to get a hold of right now.
- Portable heater. You can go to Target or Wall Mart or any other similar place and pick up a propane-powered heater. Ours sounds like a jet engine when fired up, but boy does it make a difference. I did a quick search at Target’s web site and found a dozen different options listed under Patio Heaters.
- Tent. You can also pick up a canopy or overhead tent for tailgating at your store of choice. They even come in Redskins colors, you can buy one here. Make sure to bring some heavy weights to hold it down if it’s going to be windy. A canopy not only keeps the rain off, but it helps shield you from the wind and helps keep in the heat from the portable heater that you surely must have brought.
- Hand Sanitizer/Handy Wipes. This has nothing to do with the weather, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s something people always forget. I know it sounds sissy, but if you and your buddies are going to be tailgating for four hours, someone’s going to have to go to the bathroom. The portable johns they provide don’t have running water, so washing your hands afterwords is difficult, and the sanitary conditions aren’t great. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to touch anything in that portable toilet — including the handle — and then touch a hamburger that I intend to eat. Bring something to clean your hands with. Trust me.
Despite the discomfort, there are some benefits that come with a cold-weather game.
- Crowds are smaller. You should have more room. I remember one meaningless game in the freezing December rain where we had the entire section to ourselves for a while. Smaller crowds also mean the lines to the port-o-potty might be something resembling reasonable instead of the usual 20-45 minute lines of tedium we’ve come to expect. Please note, this means the team needs you all the more, so be sure to show up if you can!
- No Redskins Bees. Those damn Bees that seem to have bred themselves to survive on asphalt will likely not be a problem. They’re too smart to come out in this kind of crappy weather.
- You can say you were there. There’s a reason why they’re called “fair weather fans.” Games played under pleasant conditions all tend to blur together after a while. On the other hand, it’s hard to forget the games with terrible weather. For his speech, the best man at my wedding told the story of our attendance at a meaningless Week 17 game in the freezing rain during the Shottenheimer era. We were THERE dammit! We were crazy, but we were THERE!!! If you go to a bad-weather game, you’ll get good stories for years. You might curse my name for the few hours you’re sitting out there in the rain freezing your tail off, but you’ll get good stories.
I hope to see you all at the game. Go Redskins!