Despite being a huge football fan for my entire life, I somehow managed to never attend a professional football game. This year, the Carolina Panthers who happen to be my favorite team in the National Football League, are set to have an away game in nearby San Diego, CA to take on the San Diego Chargers. It is a pretty rare occurrence that my favorite team plays on the West coast, as they are based in Charlotte, NC and mostly play teams on the East coast. I knew I had to take advantage of this rare opportunity and make the trip down to San Diego.
One activity I have really been looking forward to, is finally having the opportunity to do some tailgating at a real NFL stadium. I have done a little lightweight tailgating at college football games, but never anything of this magnitude. I wanted to make the most of my tailgating experience so I did a little pre-game research at Tailgating.com, a very helpful site hosted by the New Orleans Convention Center that has tips, recipes and more all relating to tailgating and getting ready for the big game. I thought it was incredibly informative so I figured I would share some of those tips with you.
First off, I’ll tie my excitement over preparing for my tailgate party into the theme of this blog, which is organization. One of the tips on the site recommends using large plastic bins to keep all of your gear organized while you travel to the game site. The heavy-duty bins are perfect because they keep your car from getting over-cluttered with gear, making it easy to set-up and take down, so you do not miss a second of the action. They also prevent any spills from making their way into your car’s upholstery as you will be toting charcoal and other messy items.
Another helpful tip the site offers up is to create a laminated check list so you are sure you do not forget a single item. Nothing is worse than getting to the parking lot and realizing you forgot the lighter fluid. Pretty hard to get those burgers and dogs going when you have no flame! If you are meeting friends for some pre-game action, the site recommends using a tall and colorful flag so your friends are able to quickly locate you and your party.
When it comes to clean-up, you want to make it as quick and easy as possible so you make it into the game on time. A very helpful tip is to line the interior of your charcoal grill with aluminum foil. That way, when the barbequing is finished, all you need to do is pull out the foil and the leftover coals and toss them out! If you heed my earlier advice to use a couple of heavy duty plastic storage bins, you will have an easy and convenient place to put all of your tailgating supplies.
Lastly, and probably most importantly – you need to show some team spirit! I know I might be the only one wearing the Carolina blue in a couple of weeks, but at least I know I have team pride (which takes a lot of effort considering the team’s dismal W-L record). Not only do you have to dress yourself up, but accessorizing your vehicle to show your loyalties can be achieved through mud-flaps, decals, car mats and more!
I know I am looking forward to my first NFL game experience and really looking forward to getting down to San Diego early to have a little pre-game party. I know I am following the tips I mentioned and others learned to a “T” so that I know my tailgate party is a success!