“Tailgategate” Blame Hits Everyone – Except CFP, Where it Belongs | Sports Destination Management

“Tailgategate” Blame Hits Everyone – Except CFP, Where it Belongs

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Jan 06, 2023 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Prohibition on Tailgating Leads to Social Media Frenzy of Finger-Pointing and Jumping to Conclusions

When word first got out that no tailgating would be allowed at SoFi Stadium, the venue hosting the College Football Playoff (CFP) Championship … it wasn’t pretty. TCU and Georgia were going head to head and for both schools, tailgating was a religious experience. A tradition. An essential part of the game.

But not for this game. No coolers, no tents, no grills, no cornhole. No joy.

What followed was an absolute social media field day that resulted in a frenzy of finger-pointing and a jamboree of jumping to conclusions. Fans nationwide (not just in Georgia and Texas) blasted everyone from the state of California to the NCAA to SoFi to the city of Inglewood. Politicians jokingly offered to sponsor bills giving fans the freedom to tailgate. Tailgategate, as it quickly became known, was a blame game and nobody was exempt from the splatter pattern.

According to the Los Angeles Times, not even Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp could resist taking a shot from his Twitter account.

“While California may not know this,” Kemp tweeted, “in the South a tailgate with friends & family is the only way to prepare for a big game. When Georgia hosts the 2025 #NationalChampionship, we’ll make sure fans are able to tailgate! Even if it’s at the state Capitol!”

Ultimately, though, this wasn’t a decision set down by SoFi, the NCAA (or any of its conferences), California or Inglewood. It was the CFP’s policy and has been in effect for a few years now; in fact, CFP banned tailgating at last year’s game in Indianapolis, the year before that in Miami and the prior year in New Orleans. (Kemp, who hadn't done his fact-checking, got quite the smackdown in comments to his post).

College tailgating - just not at CFP eventsAs a side note, SoFi Stadium permits tailgating prior to Rams and Chargers games. When the 2021 Super Bowl was held at SoFi, however, tailgating was not allowed.

To be fair, Tailgategate didn’t hurt ticket sales, noted Front Office Sports. In its e-newsletter, FOS reported that prior to the game, seats on Ticketmaster, SeatGeek, and StubHub ranged between $350 and $400, with some tickets in the lower bowl surpassing more than $8,000. On SI Tickets, the average price for a seat was posted at $1,427. Fans wanting a VIP or suite experience had the option to shell out as much as $225,000 for their tickets. 

Having received national backlash, though, CFP’s executive director Bill Hancock tried to do damage control by inviting fans to “bring their coolers and enjoy themselves in their parking spaces at SoFi Stadium on Monday night for the College Football Playoff National Championship. In addition, we are hosting the Allstate Championship Tailgate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the SoFi Stadium parking lot. This is a free event that is open to all ticket holders.”

And while it may have been free to attend the Allstate event, noted one person on social media, “you can bet if they sell beer, it’s hella expensive.”

The Atlanta Constitution-Journal noted that parking in the lot cost $75 for cars and $200 for buses. No RVs were allowed, and fans could not set up tents or grills or in any way block aisles or parking spaces.

The only other option for grilling, it seemed, would be to light up covertly in the trunk or right next to the car – and after a massive fire that took place this year as the result of an unattended grill in a parking lot outside the Hard Rock Stadium and resulted in the destruction of multiple cars, it was unlikely anyone would try.

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