Here's your brief introduction to what happened at the Texans-Cowboys tailgate last weekend.
Time for the links to flow, since this doesn't really affect me, yet, it's a topic that deserves plenty of attention and oddly irritates me as well. If you haven't heard, the Houston Texans are changing their tailgate policy. We begin our coverage with Examiner.com's Alan Burge:
The Texans have implemented a major change to their tailgating policy.
According to an email sent to season ticket holders "all visitors to Reliant Park MUST have a game ticket or other team-issued credential to be on the Reliant Park grounds on Houston Texans home game days."
I understand completely where this is coming from but it's unfortunate that the actions of a few (actually it's way more than a few) are ruining the game day experience for others. The Texans are not the only team in the league to implement this policy.
Below is the statement that was released by the Texans regarding the subject.
HOUSTON - The Houston Texans announced a new policy related to game day access in the Reliant Park parking lots today. Beginning with the team's next home game against the New York Giants on October 10, the Texans and Reliant Park will require all fans who wish to enter the Reliant Park grounds to possess a game ticket or other valid team issued credential.
The rising number of non-ticketed individuals in the parking lots on game day has begun to impact the game day experience of Texans season ticket holders and fans who have purchased game day tickets and parking passes. The new policy is designed to continue to provide Texans fans with the fun, festive and friendly environment to which they have become accustomed in the Reliant Stadium parking lots on game day.
"The excitement and enthusiasm surrounding our team is at an all-time high and as it continues to build, we want to ensure that our game attendees continue to have an exceptional experience before, during and after Houston Texans home games," said Texans president Jamey Rootes. "The tens of thousands of non-ticketed visitors that have occupied the stadium grounds on recent game days have created significant challenges for our traffic, parking and facility management operations. We feel this new policy is a necessary step in our efforts to provide our game attendees with the fun, festive and friendly game day experience that they have come to expect from us."
To accommodate fans who would like to tailgate but do not have a game ticket, the Houston Texans will make available a limited number of game day tailgate tickets available only to season ticket holders. The team will offer a maximum of 2,000 passes per game with a limit of four tickets per season ticket account per game. The tailgate tickets, priced at $10 each, must be purchased prior to game day. Texans season ticket holders will be contacted with instructions about how they can purchase tailgate tickets.
Providing a world-class game day experience is one of the primary objectives of the of the Houston Texans, and the team has been recognized by J.D. Power and Associates and others for customer service excellence. The team also has a history of making improvements to its game day operations in response to fan feedback. During the team's first preseason game in 2002, some parking lots were cash only, but after noting the long lines on the streets outside the parking lots, the Texans moved to pre-paid parking passes only beginning with the next home game a week later.
In 2005, the Texans created the "50-80 Rule" roof policy in response to concerns raised by fans seated in the sun on hot excessively hot game days. In 2008, the team re-issued and mailed out tickets and parking passes to season ticket holders affected by Hurricane Ike.
For one, Stephanie Stradley disagrees with the idea. Very strongly, in fact.
It's a tired legal saying that "bad facts make bad laws," but to use the rowdiness and overcrowding of the Cowboy game to change the policy and make money off the fans adds insult to injury. The tone deaf timing is terrible.
Seems to me that the people putting this policy together likely haven't done much tailgating. It wouldn't be surprising to me. One of the thing Texans' employees tell me is how jealous they are of the people who get to tailgate and not work on gameday.
Battle Red Blog doesn't feel any better. Here's an excerpt from a letter posted on the site that was sent to the Texans' "powers that be:"
As you know, the Texans faced the Dallas Cowboys last week. The visiting team's proximity to Houston, as well as the composition and attitude of their purported fans, resulted in far greater tailgating attendance and animosity than Reliant Stadium normally sees. The tailgating environment has not been, and will not be, as crowded and/or antagonistic as it was last Sunday. And yet, the organization has chosen to allow an environment that exists once every eight (8) years to dictate its entire tailgating policy. This is the very definition of overreaction.
Lastly, we have some thoughts on the history of the tailgate and how much it has changed from Mig-Skillz.com.
Slowly it became less about football fans getting together to get pumped for the game and became more of a football-themed block party. Complete with DJs, sponsors, radio stations, giveaways, etc. The Texans organization fed into this by encouraging bigger and bolder tailgating set-ups via the "Tailgater of the week" competition. The winners were usually the tailgates who catered to the most people. It didn't matter if most of those people had no intention of setting foot into Reliant Stadium for the day's game. This was still no problem, it was a big weekly football festival that the Texans were proud of. Several groups thought the Texans tailgating experience was the best in the league.
The more popular tailgating became, the more and more people wanted to be apart of it. People who had no interest in football started coming to the stadium for a party. Because of the bigger and bolder tailgates out there, the visitors had more than enough destinations to party. Some set ups had live bands, multiple big screen TVs, dance areas, bartenders, like an outdoor club in the parking lot. You had "Tailgate Only Fans" coming out just to get free beer, shots, and a good time, not football. This is all well and good until people who paid for season tickets and parking passes started getting inconvenienced. Tailgaters started having a constant stream of people begging for something to eat or drink, items started to disappear while they were in the game, more fights, etc. The feeling certainly had changed.
My thoughts are no different from anyone else's. It's a shame that the actions of a few people - on a day where tempers were likely to get heated - had to screw things up for everyone. Texans security should have known this was coming: it's drunk Texans fans and drunk Dallas fans. Does a fight seem unlikely, especially if the home team loses?
Perhaps the Texans will eventually lift the policy. But for now, tailgating is going to be much, much different.