Miami’s Tailgating Laws Hampering Saints Fans

The RVs are rented and the grills are seasoned, but in the week before
the Super Bowl thousands of would-be New Orleans Saints tailgaters are
experiencing a culture clash with NFL and local rules on pre-game
celebrations, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Anyone planning a trip to Miami this week has realized that
tailgating, at least as many “Who Dats” know it, will be largely
impossible in the parking lot or outside Sun Life Stadium, the site of
Super Bowl XLIV next Sunday. Saints fans accustomed to the sprawling
parties outside the Superdome have spent the past week scrambling for
alternatives.

“We’re New Orleans people, bro. They want us to come down there
like we’re doing church choir or something,” said James Simmons of
Mandeville, who’s having trouble even finding a place to park the RV
he’ll drive to South Florida this week.

According to NFL rules, tailgating that involves barbecuing or
large gatherings is prohibited in the stadium parking lot before the
Super Bowl. And the nearby options are slim, with local police saying
they will strictly enforce open container laws and unauthorized parking
in private lots.

Unlike New Orleans, where the Superdome is an easy walk to
downtown bars and the French Quarter, Miami is much more spread out.
Most beach hot-spots in Miami and Fort Lauderdale are at least a
45-minute drive from the stadium, and police there have said that
alcohol consumption or large parties on the beach are prohibited.

“We’re asking people to be cognizant that our rules are a
little different from New Orleans,” said Detective Juan Sanchez, a
spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department. “Anything that’s not
following our rules and regulations, we will shut down.”

Some fans have mentioned having beach parties or other
gatherings before the game, complete with large speakers, but Sanchez
said any such party would require a permit weeks in advance. Most of
South Beach, too, will be inundated with official NFL pre-parties and at
least six music stages.

The terrain near Sun Life Stadium is just as complicated.

No open flames are allowed in the parking lot for the Super
Bowl, and fans cannot take up more than one parking spot with a party.
That means tents or RV parties are out, even though grilling and larger
tailgates are allowed at the stadium for regular season Miami Dolphins
games.

Alcohol and food are allowed in the parking lot, said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, but fans cannot block traffic.

“Fans understand and respect that this isn’t week seven,” McCarthy said, referring to the regular football season.

The stadium is in the middle of a residential area, with a Wal-Mart and a few strip shopping centers nearby.

A manager at the local Wal-Mart store said tailgating would not
be allowed in the store’s lot because of security concerns near the
stadium. And a spokesman for the Miami Gardens Police Department, which
has jurisdiction of the area adjacent to the stadium, said campers,
tents, loud music and grilling would not be allowed on city streets or
in any of the private business parking lots near the stadium. The
spokesman, Capt. Ralph Suarez, also pointed out that city ordinances bar
drinking in public areas, including in several of the county parks near
the stadium.

Suarez said it’s not that the department is uptight, “but it’s just a different environment, I guess.”

The complications have moved most fans to improvise.

Simmons, who had planned to grill burgers and hot dogs for “22
or 2,200? Who Dats, said one of his tailgating partners has already
returned the RV he was going to rent. But he’s not giving in.

“Of course nothing’s going to stop us from going,” Simmons
said. “We’re gonna find a way to make some noise somewhere. We just
can’t do it right there at the stadium so we can get some crazy looks
from the Colts fans.”

Kennie Vice of Houma has called at least 10 different state
parks, marinas and RV parks — even the parking director of Miami — but
has had little luck finding a staging area. If worse comes to worst, he
says he’ll just party with as many fans as possible in their RV park
near Fort Lauderdale.

“I’m sure if there’s a will there’s a way. You know how Saints
fans are,” he said. “But I’m kind of thinking I’m not driving all the
way down there just to be in an RV park. I’d like to be somewhere else.”

Jay Foster, an attorney in Ocean Springs, Miss., was scrambling
to organize a large tailgate party for several Saints fans but soon
realized the hurdles. Realizing parking would be limited and restrooms a
significant challenge, he decided to book a banquet room at the El
Palacio Sports Hotel and Conference Center, about a mile from the
stadium.

Foster and his friends planned a similar event before the NFC
Championship game in 2007 against the Chicago Bears. The Saints have
hired a local Florida brass band to play the usual favorites and lead a
second-line in to the stadium.

He’s been trying to get friends and as many fans as possible to
chip in for the costs, advertising it on a Facebook page and numerous
Saints online forums.

“We just want to do this for everyday fans like me,” he said.
By RV Business

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