You gotta spend money for them to make money.

Now there’s a shock:  tailgating at Alabama is turning into a pricey affair.

Meticulously arranged in perfect rows of plastic canopies, the Quad on Alabama’s campus becomes its own temporary city on football Saturdays in the fall.

Unlike the densely-packed hodgepodge tapestry of the Grove at Ole Miss, this is the model of uniformity as required by the University of Alabama.

It’s also a big business — for both the school and the private company that choreographs the whole thing every week.

These prime tailgating spots aren’t first come, first served like elsewhere in the football mad SEC. Schools like Alabama bid out the rights to this select real estate between the Denny Chimes and Gorgas Library.

The Tailgate Guys, an Auburn-based company that’s expanded to a dozen schools, now has the contract. It bought Tuscaloosa’s Game Day Tents after last season and got the exclusive rights to Alabama’s Quad and Presidential Park, a small plot behind fraternity houses a block from Bryant-Denny Stadium.

With it, prices have changed for the 2017 season.

Gone are the basic packages that fans like Billy Stewart’s group used for years. Instead, the high-end offerings with taller price tags replaced the $1,000 season-long package Stewart shared with friends. He estimated a comparable setup with as many as nine tents would cost somewhere approaching $30,000 for the 2017 season.

Whoa.  This sounds like a familiar complaint.

“They’ve just gotten to the point where everything is about money and they’re squeezing,” said Stewart, a Chattanooga resident and Alabama alumnus. “They’ve already squeezed all the rank and file.”

Tailgate Guys president Parker Duffey said this was a move they all but had to make.

“It’s unfortunate,” he said, “but at the same time, it definitely is in the best interest for the system out there.”

If by “system”, he means his company and the school, he’s got that right.

The business model for this evolving industry isn’t as simple as rolling out the tents and setting up tables.

“A significant percentage that goes back to the school,” Duffey said. “It’s definitely a good thing for the school. They earn some healthy revenue on that.”

A look at the contract the tent company has with the University of Alabama offers some insight into how this business works — and perhaps why $1,000 tents for seven home games might not help the bottom line for UA or the Tailgate Guys.

After amendments were made for 2017, the Tailgate Guys pay a total of $76,000 per game for the right to sell the packages. That adds up to $532,000 a season to break even just on the land.

The university also gets 30 percent of the Tailgate Guys sales over $1 million for the spots on the Quad and nearby Presidential Park. That percentage Alabama receives doubled from 15 percent to 30 percent before the 2016 season. The per-game rate also went up $10,000.

Jeez.  The only thing that’s honestly surprising about any of this is that Butts-Mehre hasn’t monetized the primo tailgating experience in Athens yet.  To me, that seems like a lot of money to leave off the table simply because Michael Adams hated tailgaters, but what do I know?

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38 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Whoa, oh, Alabama

38 responses to “You gotta spend money for them to make money.

  1. PTC DAWG

    Makes perfect sense, take a story that jabs at Bama and turn it against our AD…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. MGW

    Its too much fun and too affordable. Fix it!

    Like

  3. paul

    The way things go in Athens, even if we had a similar setup you’d probably still get arrested walking down to the stadium at game time. And the University would get a percentage of any fines paid. Double dipping for the win.

    Like

  4. Macallanlover

    So when the current group of addicts pony up (and it’s coming) to show who has the biggest johnson by securing the prime spot (s), who is planning on how to sustain that with the next generation. And Lord knows how fast that will fall when the M generation is asked to pay for something.

    I guess it will be the same thinkers who figure, coreectly, season ticket holders will continue to pay anything asked after continuing to pay for the home schedules they are being served now. The BM crowd will most certainly follow the Bama model. I can see how this ends even though I won’t get to see it live and in person. That’s OK, my memory hasn’t gotten so bad that I cannot remember the good old days, just hate to see it squandered…..how is that for an old word? Get off my lawn.

    Like

  5. Athens Dog

    So my $2500 per year for a non guaranteed spot at Boggs is a steal? I’m sure BM is monitoring.

    Like

  6. Jack Klompus

    Thank goodness for guys like Parker. He really is saving us from ourselves.

    Like

  7. Scorpio Jones, III

    When you fall in love with a whore, should you not be prepared for negotiations for the fun stuff?

    Like

  8. Go Dawgs!

    As taxpayers, these people have already paid for the grounds at the University of Alabama. UA, just like UGA, is not a privately held company. Instead of allowing public land to be used by the public which has paid for it already, it’s being used to enrich a private company and further enrich the school. Pretty sweet scam there. And you’re crazy if you don’t think this is coming to UGA. As soon as McGarity hears about it, we’re toast.

    Like

    • Normaltown Mike

      Hate to break it to you, but those money grubbing gold brickers already charge to park cars on the same public land all over campus.

      FWIW, John Milledge gave North Campus to the State of Georgia fo free.

      Like

  9. Smitty

    Yep. Another reason to watch the game at home…..

    Like

  10. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    Man that sucks. Letting an Auburn guy gouge the Bama fan base.

    Like

  11. Got Cowdog

    To quote one of my very favorite movie characters: “You sneaky little bastards ain’t gettin’ shit out of me!” Hollis P. Wood, 1941

    Big Screens and Kegerators, boys. The wave of my future.

    Like

    • MGW

      For those of who live further from Athens than the Macon/Atl./August crowd, even if it were all completely free, you’ve got to reeeealy want it to make the effort to go. So yeah, the weighting of options between kegerators, big/multi-screens, and A/C versus the Athens “experience” is shifting more and more easily toward staying home at this point.

      Being in Athens on game day is awesome, but when the schedule is garbage and the price to “do it right” with your tailgate for the year is through the roof, its much more appealing to just stay home for all but the one or two decent home games per year.

      Think of it this way, if I’ve got an unfinished basement/garage/spare room, how many years do I have to just not buy season tickets and a parking pass, and pay for hotels, to pay for the cost of turning that room into a bad ass place to watch football?

      Like

    • Down island way

      And i’ll raise a glass/bottle to you my friend from the tiki hut…..down island way! Go Dawgs!

      Like

  12. Another reason to tailgate at DePalma’s when the day comes that UGA monetizes the green space on North Campus

    Like

  13. Bright Idea

    High school booster clubs have been way ahead of Bama for years. Charging to park on school board property as a fund raiser is as old as UGAAA controlling every inch of parking space on campus on game days. Charging for tailgate space wouldn’t surprise me but it would be one heck of an ordeal to enforce on the UGA campus. Purchased wristbands required for every inch of campus except for the sidewalks maybe?

    Like

  14. Got Cowdog

    If I understand it correctly, the outside vendor provides tents and tables and you rent from them. you would not be allowed to set up your own in the reserved area.

    Go Dawgs! above is correct. If Mcgarity figures it out North Campus Tailgaters are toast.

    Like

    • The Georgia Way

      Rest assured, we are already in front of this.

      We will make an announcement as soon as we can secure donors for the tents and tables, and the volunteer labor to set them up.

      #COMMITTOTHEG

      Like

    • ugafidelis

      He probably already has. He’s just trying to figure out a way to get it done without turning to an Auburn based company.

      Like

  15. Southernlawyer11

    I actually think a level of control in North Campus could make it fun again save it from destruction, while also capturing future loyalty to those who think the gameday experience is too big of a hassle.

    My suggestion: turn North Campus into the largest outdoor beer garden on gamedays and have the university sell beer. Have it catered with simple’ish grab and go items and run a concession tent(s) like the Masters. Bring in portable restrooms and place them in the internal driveways and parking lots on Jackson . Have ZERO reserved personal real estate (aside from the designated ‘north campus’ area) but have tons of tents and chairs along with elevated large TVs or projectors strategically placed throughout the space. Not sure the price model: do you (1) charge a cover / sign up online in advance (that could be onerous to police and kill the atmostphere) ? or (2) do you just price it out through relatively expensive beer sales and just forbid outside alcohol in the area defined by north campus ? Maybe you get a contract with a major domestic beer company that creates a unique specialty can that would allow you to identify (and police) anyone on North Campus with “outside” beer ? I think paying a premium for beer is a small price to pay if they actually came through with a model that made gameday EASIER for everyone WITHOUT making it all about who has the biggest wallet the february before.

    Sounds lame, but if I could just show up empty handed and have a traditional experience I would be happy to. That’s why so many people go to bars before the games…….even if most of them would rather be outside in the beautiful weather.

    Like

    • Southernlawyer11

      and the big cheeses can still stick to tailgating out of their premium parking spaces if they don’t want to mingle with the masses in North Campus.
      Basically the idea is to make North Campus a “venue.” No outside items allowed other than maybe folding chairs, but no outside items needed either. No reserved spaces for big wigs but plenty of spaces for everybody…….instead of paying fees for this and that, which leads to a slippery slope of a caste system, just make the fees be for food and alcohol.

      Like

      • Normaltown Mike

        i like it and think it would be a great improvement. Disney can move 50,000.00 people through a park every day and manage to keep it clean, fed, watered and entertained. It would be a small price to pay to create an amazing fan day experience in a shared space.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Been saying this for years … totally agree. It’s about wanting to spend the money to provide first class guest experience. Disney is generally so clean that no one litters, and Disney keeps the garbage cans plentiful, emptied and clean.

          Like

          • Disney has an army of people behind walls and under the park to keep it like that. Its not that people are that clean, its that Disney was built to be kept clean. I do environmental services management for a living, and I know directly that Disney is just as busy 11p-7am as during the day.

            Like

            • That’s right. My point was that the guests treat the parks and the resorts with respect as well. The company also has a focus on the “show,” which includes the aesthetics and cleanliness of all guest areas (which is a 24x7x365 job).

              The garbage problem on game days started when the parking restrictions were implemented. In the 80s and early 90s when you could park just about anywhere, people took their garbage with them after the game.

              Like

      • Got Cowdog

        That’s good thinking, Lawyerdude, no snark intended. No tailgating on north Campus at all. Take it one step further and lease the space to vendors and food trucks.

        Like

        • Southernlawyer11

          Thanks. I wouldn’t so much call it “no tailgating” but it would be an enhancement to all parties involved. The (1) traditionalist can still sit in a fold out chair–either brought in or provided wedding style—at a table, outside, while watching the early action and drinking beer; the (2) guy who is on his last limb of it being a hassle or who has young kids can park however far away he wants and know that he can just make it to north campus and have a great experience; he doesn’t have to make a million plans with a milion people or sell his soul to some tent company for every blade of grass—he merely gets gouged on beer (but doesn’t even have to lug a cooler)…….The (3) University can control the trash problem since they provide everything and pay for the extra police / clean up presence by selling $7ish draft beers. They won’t be cleaning up grills, styrofoam coolers, rando tables etc. Let UGA food services cater the whole thing or charge food trucks. Place tents strategically like the Masters.

          People will happily pay a premium for beer and food to have a traditional type experience. What they will resent is being for a 10×10 space and every chair, table and blade of grass a ala-carte. Plus I think the whole openness camaraderie thing has a throwback feel while also forward thinking innovation. It also ties in to our crowded campus / no parking situation.

          Like

      • I was scrolling down to say “I may be in the minority, but I am ok with professional tailgating on NC, but NC alone.” That would allow it to be used but also cleaned up and managed.

        Like

    • OhioDawg

      Great idea. I would love to have something like this available for my trips to Athens. I live in Ohio and bringing a full tailgate setup with me on weekend trips isn’t really feasible. Having something like this where I could enjoy a tailgate like atmosphere without the hassle would make the trips much more enjoyable.

      Like

    • Chopdawg

      Can I still pack my .38?

      Like

  16. TimberRidgeDawg

    I’ve done the Quad tailgating thing at Bama a few times (I have a SR over there). It’s a very nice and well organized setup. Everything is planned and the area is cleaned up nicely after game day. Their quad has some advantages with it’s contiguous size and close proximity to Bryant-Denny and the Greek houses It makes for a convenient central focal point for pre-game festivities even though it has bit of corporate feel. Bama seems to be able to charge just about anything they want for home games. Reserving hotels rooms for the season can cost you $1000 per game with a 2 night minimum stay (payment in advance for the whole season). I will stay in Hoover or Mountain Brook and drive over for games when I go over there. They do a good job with traffic flow in my experience not much traffic snarl for a crowd that size in a college town. Say what you will about Bama, they do know how to put on a football game without destroying the campus or throwing everyone in jail in the process.

    Like

  17. zdawg15

    Are we in the infant stages of the whole thing unraveling? Lawsuits. Viewers cutting cable. ESPN layoffs. Season tickets available after the cutoff. Increase in face value of tickets. Does a winning team or championship fix all of this? Would be interested to hear what you guys think.

    Like

    • Bulldog Joe

      “Season tickets available after the cutoff?”

      It’s just The Georgia Way asking for more money to hold for months before telling fans there are no tickets available for them. No one here is surprised.

      “Does a championship fix all of this?”

      We don’t know. We’re Georgia fans.

      Like