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It’s time to gear up for tailgating!
Baseball may be known as America’s national pastime and is certainly beloved by sports fans from March to October, but from late summer into the first half of winter, football stirs their emotions. It also stirs their cravings for outdoor gatherings unlike any other sport. Tailgating at football games has become a pastime unto itself as family and friends unite to create memorable pre- and post-football game experiences.
Prepare to open your wallet
American football fans collectively spend about $20 billion per year on tailgating. A RetailMeNot study says 43 percent purchase tailgating basics such as hotdogs, hamburgers, chips and dip at an average cost of $143 per game. Forty-two percent of those same tailgaters will spend $500 for food and supplies over the course of one season. However, there are many who consider the occasion of a football game to require far more elaborate spreads of gourmet foods and a full bar of adult beverages and soft drinks. Those people can spend thousands on food and drink during a typical season.
Food and beverages are just the beginning
Tailgating can be as simple as the name implies; utilizing the tailgate of a truck or SUV to set up your spread. That is how the ritual got its start decades ago.
Today, what is considered “standard” tailgating gear includes:
- Tailgating chairs, often emblazoned with team logos and colors which can range from as little as $10 for the lower-end (and much less durable) models to a couple of hundred dollars for sturdy, long-lasting versions.
- Adequately sized and functional tables can be found at home improvement retailers for under $50. If you want one with your team colors and logos, prepare to pay double for the same table. Some thrifty tailgaters buy a lower-priced table and cover it with a disposable, logo-bearing tablecloth that is readily available in many stores and can be had for a couple of dollars or less.
- Tents/canopies are essential to provide shade on hot days and to keep tailgaters and their food supplies dry on a rainy (or snowy) day. Decent tents can be purchased for under a hundred dollars, but experienced tailgaters will tell you that it’s worth spending extra to get one that is easy to set up and take down. The higher-end models run from about $200 to $400.
- Coolers are essential for cold drinks, but also for storing perishable foods before and after the game. Some tailgaters prefer to use multiple coolers to keep food and drinks separate, while others invest in very large versions that make it simple to load everything in one container. Prices can range from a couple of dollars for a Styrofoam cooler that may only last one use to several hundred for a top-end model that will last a lifetime.
- If you’re planning to cook those hamburgers, hotdogs, your favorite kabobs, steaks, seafood, etc. you’ll need a grill. You can purchase a very basic charcoal grill for under $10 or you can get an elaborate gas grill or smoker that will run upward of $500 or more. It all depends on your wants/needs, and your budget.
Beyond those essentials, there are many other items tailgaters love including: team-themed paper plates and napkins; cups and silverware in team color; flags and banners; generators to power TVs, lights, space heaters, coffee makers and other portable electric devices; game sets (e.g., corn hole) and much more.
And that is just the beginning. Tailgating on the really high-end involves campers and motorhomes and is very popular among retired fans who have the financial wherewithal to follow their teams all over the country. They often set up spreads several days before kickoff and may stick around for a day or two before heading to the next venue. It’s not for everyone, but for those that can afford it, it’s a primo tailgating lifestyle.
Regardless of how you choose to tailgate, here’s wishing you happy times this football season!