directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Thinking of tailgating for the playoffs? Think again...

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Thinking of tailgating for the playoffs? Think again...

I've been doing a little checking around to see what Nationwide's policy is for tailgating at a Blue Jackets event (or any event for that matter).

Unfortunately, if your like me and enjoy tailgating for big events, the news stinks.

In my pursuit of tailgate glory I contacted both Nationwide Arena and the from what I understand the company they pay (or do they own the parking?) to manage all the parking in/around the Arena District called "Standard Parking".

Let me first say that both gentlemen I corresponded with were professional, timely and courteous.

The first gentlemen I corresponded with was Adam Borland who is a Guest Services Manager at Nationwide Arena. He granted me permission to share with you our email exchange and his contact information if anyone would like to follow up with him:

Here are some snippets:

LTL: I am interested where we can tailgate if/when we make the playoffs for the opening game?

Borland: Tailgating is prohibited in the lots just west of the arena. It is very much appreciated and we are glad to have such dedicated fans, but it is a state law that there may be no open flames or alcohol. For this reason, the parking company that controls those lots has prohibited all tailgating. You are more than welcome to meet up with other fans at any of the local establishments, but, to my knowledge, there are no tailgating locations in the downtown area.

LTL: May I ask how tailgating is allowed during Ohio State games if no open flames or alcohol are allowed?

I think it would be great if we fans could openly show our support before the first playoff game and tailgating is such a great way to do so. I'm just confused how it can be allowed in one event but not another.

Borland: Tailgating with open containers of alcohol at The Ohio State University is still a prohibited act, however, the University allows, in many cases, for guests to have grills in their lots. This is a choice that the University makes and is liable for, but is not something that can be done outside of Nationwide Arena. I agree that it is a great way to show support of the team, but support for the Blue Jackets can also be shown in many other ways.

LTL: That is an unfortunate position as I know many fans who were looking forward to making the first playoff game truly a unique event both in and outside the arena.

I have personally experienced other arenas (NJ and Carolina) who have allowed tailgating and it made for a terrific and festive atmosphere.

One more question. Does Nationwide plan to do anything unique should this team qualify for the playoffs (such as televise the games on the big screen outside) or will it just be business as usual?
If you don't mind I would like to publish this on my blog and if fans have any more questions could I have them contact you directly?

Borland: I would be happy to field the questions regarding the team or arena, however, the tailgating issue is not a Nationwide Arena or Columbus Blue Jackets policy. Standard Parking is the company that controls the parking lots in this area, and it is their procedure to ban all tailgating in order to stay within the laws and regulations.

As for the playoffs, I would assume that the Blue Jackets and the staff will have many unique and motivational ideas for our fans, but with us all still waiting to find out our exact position and opponent, nothing has been made final just yet.

Adam can be reached at this email address if you have any further questions:

At his suggestion I did go ahead and follow up with Standard Parking. I spoke with a gentlemen named Steve Friend via the phone.

After our initial conversation he offered to go and speak with the owners and give me a return phone call later that day which he did a few hours later.

Basically the message he gave was similar to Bollands but he said it was Nationwide, not Standard Parking, that does not permit tailgating and security will be in the area to enforce it. He said they appreciate the fan's excitement and that they encourage everyone to use the local establishments in the area.

Standard Parking can be reached at 614.610.4040.


Look, I get it. Nationwide spent millions of dollars building up that district and they want fans to use it. There are legalities to consider and who wants to deal with the garbage or "facility" issues that come with tailgating? It could also set a precedent that perhaps they just aren't willing to chance.

....but let's be honest here, the biggest reason is the all mighty dollar.

I get all of that, I really do.

That said this is a special event. The NHL playoffs are a special event. Fans want to mark events like this in their own special way. They should not be marked with the same 'regular season" feel that we experience some 40+ home games (depending on the pre-season) a season.

We aren't talking Ohio State numbers here. Heck chances are the first game will be on a weekday anyhow which makes its tough for fans to turn out.

I'm talking a hand full of die hard Jacket fans enjoying the day together and celebrating the Jackets first ever playoff experience. Some music, perhaps some playful street hockey, some flag waiving... I think the city of Columbus could handle that don't you? Afterall, they do have just a bit of experience in this area.

Plenty of folks are still going to flood the AD's establishments and open their wallets .

Special events call for special times. For instance could you imagine the players looks when they drive in for the game a see a bunch of Jackets fans out there having fun and soaking in the experience in preparation for the first ever playoff game?

I get pumped just thinkin about the possibilities and I'm not even playing.

It's certainly not the end of the world. Fans are flexible, we love our Arena District and we'll take the playoffs and the experience any way we can get it. We certainly don't want to cause trouble or break policy.

I just really hope the "powers to be" are doing their best to make this playoff experience just a little extra special for all the fans out there.

After 8 long years of losing -- we are ready to rock!



Barga said...

Goodale park then walk over (for home games)??

Barga said...

and for away games it could be somewhere else

rocket said...

Are you allowed to tailgate and have open containers at Goodale park? If so, that is a great idea... I mean we need to do something, I don't want to just show up to the arena and leave (although the atmosphere will be electrifying inside, it would still just be nice to do something before hand).

There's gotta be something we can do...

ROTU said...

Here's an idea that might work: get a free standing George Foreman grill and use red picnic cups. Throw the empties in someone else's truck bed. No flame and no open containers.

LTL said...


From what I understand they won't allow fans to even congregrate in the lots near the arena.


Barga said...

well, you are not allowed to have open containers anywhere (That includes sippy cups, red cups, or anything with beer in it)... as for tailgaiting, i think you are allowed to have flames there as it is a picnic spot
I can look into it if you wish

one of these days i am goin to go to the RBar and meet you all... one of these days

Temujin said...

That's a shame. But I think the players know how the fans feel :-)

author said...

Not to offend ANYONE, but I agree with the "no tailgating" policy. In MY opinion, it keeps an air of class around the arena. There ARE plenty of great restaurants you can go to and grab a meal and a few drinks pre-game. If your idea of showing support to our team is by standing around a parking lot and drinking, that sounds more like you just want to drink it at home with your friends. As for me, I don't have a problem with pumping some cash into the arena district, if it helps keeps the district a classy area. This is just MY opinion, and I realize I'm in the minority here

LTL said...


Fair enough. Thanks for the comment.

One thing I can gurantee you though are the majority of folks that would actually take the time to come out and tailgate an NHL game are the same die hards that pump greenbacks into the AD during the dog days of the season.

For me it's certainly not about the money.. it's about the atmosphere and doing something different than the norm of a regular season game.

I've done it before in New Jersey (at the old stadium) and in Carolina. It's a lot fun.

That said if they won't allow fans to to do it hopefully they can take advantage of the area at the East entrance and set up a beer garden or something to that effect.


author said...

LTL, I apologize for my wording in my comment; when I wrote, "If your idea of showing support to our team is by standing around a parking lot and drinking, that sounds more like you just want to drink it at home with your friends", that most certainly was NOT directed AT you, I meant "you" as in the every-man sense of the word. You, sir, are a class act all the way, and I was only adding my opinion to the topic, not making a judgment call on ANYONE. Perhaps I should have reserved my opinion until I actually experienced tailgating at a NHL game.

LTL said...

Not a problem at all Author. Absolutely no reason to apologize! I actually didn't take it personally at all.

Honsestly I welcome all views around these parts.

I really did like your point about keeping the AD a classy environment. That is something I hadn't considered.

Keep the comments comin!


Wally said...

Considering how uptight Nationwide Arena is about what goes on inside their walls, it's not a surprise they're funny about what goes on outside.

Anonymous said...

Does Standard Parking manage the parking lots at Crew Stadium? Because open containers and open flames are definitely allowed there before and after Crew games. I know it's a slightly different case as there is no place around there to have a drink before the game, and that lot is pretty isolated from the surrounding neighborhoods, but it does go on openly every game there. Hell, the Crew even give an award to the "tailgater of the game"

LTL said...

Good question neutralzone. Not quite sure how that works -- hopefully someone can chime in --but another great example.


Barga said...

I believe it is owned by either the City or the crew org. and open flame is allowed within confines similar to most picnic locations
as for the beer, that is still not allowed

JAL said...

Just some observations in general, as I do not know enough about the specifics here to make concrete judgments.

First, tailgating represents increased liability exposure to the owner of the lots, as you have people running around and engaging in activities that are not necessarily compatible with vehicular traffic. ;-)

Second, tailgating reduces revenue to the lot operator, as tailgaters reduce the effective parking spots available. It also makes administration difficult for them, as they can't predict on a given night how many spots they will actually have available.

This tends to be more of an issue with arenas than with stadiums, which often have extra space built into the planning for their lots, have designated tailgate areas, or have extensive open field parking. It is also more of an issue with downtown arenas, such as Nationwide.

I agree it would be fun, but it does represent a lot of risk and administrative burden for the owners, particularly in the more crowded setting of Nationwide-type arenas.

Paul said...

Someone's yanking your chain, LTL. A few years ago, I went to one of QFM's chicken wing things. A concert by Nazareth and Steppenwolf. Lots of beer, plenty of barbecue pits and other cooking appliances and the event was held in the west parking lot of Nationwide Arena.

Buffalo Bob said...

It would be very cool to see grills, smoke, flags, and cheering masses in the Nationwide parking lot before the game. But I don't blame anybody involved for nixing it for all the reasons stated above.

I *do* think that somebody should set up a big party area on the patio, with live music, beer and food vendors, and the same party atmosphere (think Hineygate). That way *somebody* is getting paid and the environment is a little more controlled, but really, really festive.

Joe said...

I wonder about the McFerson Commons area, hanging out in the grass by the arch. Used to have Oktoberfest there, so it would be a great place to congregate before the game. I'll bring my Jackets cornhole boards if anyone is up for a game.