Traveling for a game, but don't know where to find a tailgate party? TAILGREETER website can help
Nick Akrap ranks tailgating high on his list of favorite things, but when he wanted to attend a college football game in another city, he found there wasn't much to find.
"It was so difficult to find this information, we ended up not going on the trip," said Akrap, who lives in Chicago and wanted to go to an SEC college game.
Akrap and some friends decided to fix that, creating TAILGREETER, an online marketplace designed to make tailgating available to everyone. The website lists hundreds of tailgating gatherings in professional and college sports and concert settings. Some of the events provide food, drink and entertainment for a fee. Many are free, with available amenities, if any, covered in the description.
"Our aim is to make tailgating more accessible to fans all over the world. A way to do that is to have them join existing tailgate hosts," Akrap said.
They conducted a survey that drew more than 500 responses, with 85% saying they would tailgate more if there was an easy way to do it.
Fans who regularly attend Green Bay Packers games likely know that Lot 1 is the center of Lambeau Field's tailgating universe, but they might not know there are Packers-welcoming tailgate events in Minneapolis, Chicago and Kansas City.
Akrap said trash talking might be a part of the entertainment — think Packers fans in Minneapolis, for example, or Bears fans at Lambeau Field — but an invitation to the party also brings certain privileges.
"There is a lot of trash talking, but (Packers fans) know they have a safe place to experience the culture," Akrap said.
To Akrap, experiencing local culture is a key attraction of tailgating.
"I want to go to New Orleans and experience crawfish and jambalaya, to learn their culture and their traditions. That's the fun part," he said. "There is no better way to experience a city than through tailgating. You want to try local food, meet local people."
The Packers and many other teams did not allow tailgating during the 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic, but tailgating likely will return if teams are able to return to full stadiums this season.
Most of the events that currently are listed on the TAILGREETER site are from 2019 and 2018 because of last year's shutdown, but Akrap expects the selections to begin filling in soon enough this year.
"Last year was tough. We did have some hosts that were still hosting tailgates, but at the same time, we didn't want to send somebody who was sick to a tailgate, or get sick at a tailgate and send them back home," he said. "(This year) we are looking to make sure we have over 100 hosts."
The key to success is to get listings. They have them from some 30 cities representing football, soccer and baseball, as well as concert venues.
"We were fortunate to get within some of these existing communities of fan clubs," Akrap said.
Past listings include, for example, Two Planes Tailgate Club in Kansas City, The Guardians G11 Tailgate Crew in Denver, the Parking Lot Chef Tailgate in Foxborough, Mass., and the BiH Boys pre-concert tailgate in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The website charges 10% of the sales to fee-based events that are generated through the website. Free tailgate events don't pay.
"It's not necessarily (about) the amount of money we're making. We are just above covering our costs," Akrap said. They also do fundraising to support the operation, of which Akrap is a full-time employee.
The site allows visitors to refine searches based on such factors as team, cost, proximity to the event, bathrooms, type of site and more. It also includes a blog that talks about tailgate food, how to host a tailgate party, tailgating tips and more.
Akrap and his partners started small in 2018, hosting their own tailgate at Bears games. They started with six people, family and friends mostly, but by the end of the season had 40 attendees, 26 of whom where from different states. The growth in 2019 was 22 times the 2018 experience and they expect growth to resume with a vengeance in 2021.
"Hosts have never been more ready to get back out there," he said.
No doubt, that's true for fans as well.
Contact Richard Ryman at (920) 431-8342 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RichRymanPG, on Instagram at @rrymanPG or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RichardRymanPG/