Why Redskins Tailgaters Are Still Worried
I continue to get frequent e-mails from folks on both sides of Tailgate-Gate; supporters of Change in '09!, who think their commute into the 17th spot of the 39th row of the Green Lot will now be easier, and opponents of change, who think their traditions will be spiked like so many jugs of Hawaiian Punch. I haven't been printing these thoughts, but I'll make an exception for Ted Abela, whose tailgate I've frequently attended and written about over the years. Ted and friends get to FedEx way before dawn, set up shop on a main artery, and create a fairly elaborate buffet line, complete with veggie meat products (for those so inclined) and fried dough (for the grateful world).
Ted remains concerned about what will happen to his tailgate in the new world, and I agreed to let him explain why. If you give me veggie burgers, you can do the same. You can read more at the Save Tailgating petition, at Tailgating Ideas and at Tailgate Lot. Ted writes:
I've been tailgating at Fedex Field for 10-plus years. I haven't missed a home game in 10-plus years, and I haven't missed a tailgate in 10-plus years. The Washington Redskins' new Parking/Tailgate Policy will make me end this streak.
The new policy is intended to direct individual tailgaters to the rear of the lot if they plan on tailgating and occupying more than one space. The extra space could eventually be requested back when all of the other locations are filled--fans "will be allowed to occupy two spaces until required for additional vehicles," according to the policy. Patrons that have a small tailgate and that do not require more than their individual space will be directed to the front of the lot. Patrons that are not tailgating at all will also be directed to the front of the lot.
It has long been the Redskins' policy to only allow tailgaters to occupy one parking space. The parking passes we purchase for each game clearly state at the top "THIS PARKING PASS IS VALID FOR ONE VEHICLE ONLY. NOT TAILGATE SPACE". Yes, people do not always follow the rules, but those tailgaters seem to be the minority. Why is the majority being punished for what the minority is doing? If the team could simply enforce a policy that has been around for years, then none of this would be a problem. I acknowledge that the parking situation is not ideal, but that is because the old policy has never been enforced fully.
Over the past 10 years that I've been tailgating at FedEx, I've met a lot of interesting people. Some of these people, I've only met once. Others were only around for one or two seasons, but the majority of them I've known for 10 years and counting. I can tell you what day Mike's and Pam's birthdays are, and I make sure to send them cards every year. I know that Craig's wife just had a beautiful baby boy. I know that Charlie's son is going to go to Virginia Tech in the fall. I received Chris's family vacation pictures from the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year when Art and Darrell were inducted.
I invite each of them to my offseason BBQs so we can talk about how we think the team will do this upcoming season. We give each other Christmas presents, which we exchange the game before Christmas or the game after, depending on the schedule. We've organized away game trips to Baltimore and Carolina so we can cheer on our team in enemy territory. We've planned playoff trips to Tampa Bay and Seattle so we can support the Redskins during their postseason runs. The new policy will kill what we have built as a Redskins family.
If we are told where each car should individually park, then that means if Mike gets there 45 minutes after me, he will be placed in a different location of the lot where someone with an orange flag tells him to go. It means that Julie has to carry three ten-pound bags of ice halfway across the parking lot just to meet up with her regular tailgate group because she got stuck in traffic and arrived an hour later then everyone else. It means that everyone's extended Redskins family will be broken up and divided, because a handful of people didn't follow the rules.
When the new policy goes into effect, legendary tailgates such as The Gate C Crew, The Four C's, The DTC, Area 51, Extreme Skins, Redskinsheads, FdaCowboys and many more will be disbanded and moved to various random locations throughout the lots. Why do these Redskins fans have to be splintered all across FedEx Field because a couple of bad eggs didn't follow policy and procedure in the past?
I'm lucky enough to have been able to watch a game and tailgate at RFK. It was an amazing atmosphere. You could feel the history and camaraderie as soon as you drove under that small tunnel into the lot where everyone was honking their horns and singing Hail to the Redskins. I usually go to four or five away games a year and I get to see how other team's fans support their franchises, and I'm a little jealous. I don't feel we have that at FedEx Field yet but we are close. I'm scared that if this new policy goes into effect, the atmosphere that we have been so desperately trying to recreate since RFK will be forever gone.
I'm asking that Mr. Snyder and the Redskins organization please not tear apart my Redskins family that I cried with in 2007 during the Buffalo Bills tailgate, after Sean Taylor passed away. Let us park next to our friends and family as long as we all have the appropriate color parking passes and are not taking up more than one space. Please follow through on Rule D of the old policy, which states, "The failure of any person to obey instruction, direction or request of parking lot personnel or stadium signage, or the violation of management's rules and regulations, may cause eviction from the parking lot at management's discretion, or forfeiture and cancellation of this parking pass, without compensation."
Let us park where we want to park in the lots, and then have the parking staff funnel cars to empty locations from the front of the lot to the back two hours before kickoff. Please reconsider these changes for the good of the fan base.
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