The Editors Page: Cheers in the parking lot
The Editor's Page: Cheers in the parking lot
07/30/2013

Near the end of August, the 2013 college football season will begin, as will tailgating season. Truth be told, I don’t remember tailgating while I was in college in the 1970s. I have a vague recollection of some people drinking in the parking lot and maybe someone would have a small hibachi to make some burgers either at the Coliseum in Los Angeles or the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., but that’s about it.

Fast forward to 1994. My wife and I joined several relatives to attend the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. That year, the University of Nebraska played West Virginia University. When we walked through the parking lot, it was as if we had been transported to Lincoln, Neb., surrounded by Husker Nation. Trucks, RVs, buses and cars were all decked out in school colors, grills were smoking and drinks were flowing.

Then a few years later, I made my first trip to South Bend, Ind., to see Notre Dame play my alma mater, the University of Southern California. I was stunned at the number of people who were there hours before kickoff. The atmosphere was electric and friendly, with everyone sharing food and grog with portable bars, giant coolers, big grills and spreads of all types of foods in between cars and trucks. For some, the game itself was almost a secondary event.

These days, everybody knows about tailgating and the extremes of some tailgaters, who put on parties in the parking lot that might rival massive wedding receptions.

Whitney Carnahan, our Features Editor, also recalls attending University of Wisconsin football games with her family in Madison, Wis., where tailgating has become an art form. She recently started talking with some rental stores about what they do for tailgating, which resulted in our story about tailgating opportunities starting on page 54.

Some rental stores in college towns have gone as far as creating special tailgating packages with everything included from tables, chairs and disposable team servingware to tents, giant TVs, sound systems and generators.

Tailgating also transcends the college game and can be even more extensive at professional football venues. Some of you might remember John Madden, the former Oakland Raiders coach who became a broadcaster, mostly working with Pat Summerall. Madden had a special bus to take him to games because he didn’t like to fly. That means he was in the parking lot and soon he was
doing segments as part of the broadcast, sampling the tailgating food available around the country.

Then when it comes to college bowl games, professional playoffs and the Super Bowl, just about every corporate sponsor has some sort of hospitality tent outside the stadium to treat their VIPs. That means they likely end up renting tents, tables, chairs, HVAC, power and more as they try to out-do each other.

While I am partial to baseball as a favorite sport, football lends itself to tailgating as there are fewer home games, the anticipation can build and people can have the time to plan an extravaganza and use rental equipment. That means tailgating can be a way for you to win business even if your favorite team doesn’t win the game.

Wayne Walley is editor for Rental Management, the official magazine of the American Rental Association, 1900 19th St., Moline, IL  61265. He can be reached at 800-334-2177, ext. 253, or 309-277-4253; fax 309-764-2747; wayne.walley@ararental.org.