Hamilton

Why tailgating won't work in Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa but might in smaller cities

Just a day after thousands of teachers in Ontario and their supporters protested major cuts to education, the government of Premier Doug Ford had another announcement. Tailgate parties will be legal soon in the province.

Kritzer says tailgating might work in London, Windsor or Waterloo

A group of Buffalo Bills fans from Toronto pose for a photo while tailgating in the parking lot of New Era Field before an NFL football game between the Bills and the New York Jets, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (Adrian Kraus/Associated Press)
Just a day after thousands of teachers in Ontario and their supporters protested major cuts to education, the government of Premier Doug Ford had another announcement. Tailgate parties will be legal soon in the province. 6:51
 

Just a day after thousands of teachers in Ontario and their supporters protested major cuts to education, the government of Premier Doug Ford had another announcement.

Tailgate parties will be legal soon in the province. 

They've been a part, for a long time, of the experience in the U.S. of watching a baseball or football live at the stadium. You'll no longer need to travel to Buffalo or to Cleveland for a true tailgate experience.

Graham Kritzer has been to tailgate parties in those cities, and several more. He spoke with the CBC's Conrad Collaco. You can read an abridged and edited version of the interview or listen to the full audio interview by hitting the play button above. 

Graham Kritzer, freelance sports writer 

For people who have never been to a tailgate party, what is that experience like?

I think it depends on where you're having the tailgate party. One person's experience in Buffalo is not going to mimic another person's experience in Detroit or Toronto. Usually everybody gathers in the morning in a parking lot. You've got your music and your barbecue and some adult beverages. Everyone's tossing around a baseball or a football. It's a good build-up for the game itself.   

What makes a really good tailgate party work? 

Hamilton's tailgate parties have always been under the radar, officially. You guys have made it work. On the other side of the border what makes Buffalo so ridiculous is the amount of space set aside for these things. The stadiums in Buffalo and Cleveland are out in the middle of nowhere. You've got acres and acres and acres and acres of parking lot to set up these tailgates. A Buffalo tailgate is just row after row of cars, buses and fires and carnage, essentially. They really go overboard. They're definitely an outlier. You're definitely not going to have that experience replicated in Detroit or Pittsburgh.      

Where in the province is this going to work best? 

That is a great question. You take Hamilton, for instance — Tim Hortons Field. In Ottawa, Frank Clair Stadium (now TD Place.) These stadiums are located in residential neighbourhoods with very limited parking lot space. I don't know how that's going to work. I think it's going to be a struggle to have a legitimate tailgating experience happen there. You look at Toronto  — Rogers Centre, Scotiabank Arena — there's no parking to begin with in Toronto. There's no parking lots down there. I'm not sure where you're going to have your tailgating experience there. The Argos tried to do it at BMO Field. That was more of a prison-like atmosphere than anything.  

The only places I can think of this working are in university towns, places like Western or Windsor or Waterloo — areas where they do have the parking. They do have the culture — the young culture ingrained already with the partying and football but again, legality-wise, is tailgating going to be legalized for college sports? I don't know. That's really the only place I see it working. Logistically, I don't see it happening in bigger cities. 

You spent a year covering the tailgate parties outside New Era Field in Buffalo. What was your favourite moment from that season? 

I had many favourite moments, none I think we can really broach on morning radio on CBC. You've seen it all — guys on fire, people getting thrown off motor homes through tables, couples coupling in port-o-potties. You just see it all. That's the thing with Buffalo. It's so unique. You don't see that stuff in Detroit. You don't see it in Pittsburgh. You don't see it in Dallas. Every sports fan should experience a Buffalo tailgate. It's just so special. It's crazy. It's unpredictable but it's always fun. 

What advice do you have for first-time Ontario tailgaters?

Enjoy yourself. The main thing is that everybody is having fun. Everyone is supporting the same team, generally. Come with an open mind. Come with an appetite. Get ready to have a really good time. 

About the Author

Conrad Collaco is a CBC News producer for CBC Hamilton with extensive experience in online, television and radio news. Follow him on Twitter at @ConradCollaco, or email him at conrad.collaco@cbc.ca.

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