Fans / Stadiums


Tailgating 2.0

Author Kelsey Sampson, University of San Francisco

Posted: October 13, 2015

In the world of college football, tailgating plays an important role in a fan’s game day experience. Like the pros, colleges compete against the couch at home, and to keep sponsor and donor revenue streams flowing, athletic departments are finding creative ways to add value to tailgating (Muret, 2015, parag. 2). In addition, fans have identified that the environmental factors such as availability, access and infrastructure all influence event attendance (Pons, Giroux, & Mourali, 2014, p. 23). When these environmental factors can be met at tailgates as well, revenue streams outside the arena have the potential to skyrocket.

Colleges such as Georgia Southern, Texas Tech, SMU and Auburn are seeking turnkey entrepreneurs to provide high-end, all-inclusive hospitality options for fans (Muret, 2015, parag. 4). Whether entrepreneur companies such as Tailgate Guys, Block Party Suites, or Boxlife are providing “tailgate mansions” or supped up shipping containers, it is obvious they are in high demand among fans. Ranging anywhere from $500-$25,000 per event, fans have numerous options if they want to upgrade their traditional tailgate experience. It is important to note that all sport consumers have different motives for attending an event and researchers have spent years identifying and deciphering such motives for sport marketers (Pons et al., 2014, p. 26).

When focusing on the Motivation Scale for Sport Consumption (MSSC), the tailgating experience covers four of the eight motivation areas; aesthetics, escape, social and family (Pons et al., 2014, p. 28). For example, if a group were to purchase a one-game “tailgate mansion”, they will be provided the high-quality design that is exclusive to them, escape from their day-to-day lives, a shared experience with their family and friends, and the social interaction of other like-minded tailgaters around them. Once these motives are identified, entrepreneurial tailgate companies can market their options more efficiently and provide to a variety of sport consumers.

The tailgate experience also influences a fan’s sport identity. Sport identity occurs when an individual integrates a sports team into his or her sense of self, resulting in the team becoming an integral part of their self-definition (Funk & Lock, 2014, p. 45). Regardless of actually attending a football game, fan’s still want to take part in pre-game traditions and a game-day atmosphere because they feel like they are apart of something bigger than themselves (Muret, 2015, parag. 28). This is good news for sport marketers because this is an example of how to keep and grow a fan-base regardless of a team’s yearly success. Also, those who have a strong identity towards a team or school are more influenced to experienced the next level of tailgating and one-up their fellow peers. The decision to purchase products, in this case, a tailgating house, is because people want to show to others what they are, what they have, and what they represent (Muret, 2015, parag. 39).

Attitude theory also plays a role in determining the demand of top tier tailgating amenities because a fan’s attitude in turn controls their actions. Essentially, attitude theory highlights how beliefs about a sports team lead to feelings that influence intentions and commitment, which then guide sport consumer behavior (Funk & Lock, 2014, p. 40). With all the recent growth and positive hype of tailgate entrepreneurs, it is no surprise that the overall attitude of consumers is on the rise and spreading across the country.



Funk, D. C., & Lock, D. (2014). Sport consumer attitudes: Formation, function, and effects on information processing. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp. 37-50). New York, NY: Routledge.

Muret, D. (2015, August 17). Tailgating goes extreme. SportsBusiness Journal, 18(18). Retrieved from

Pons, F., Giroux, M., & Mourali, M. (2014). Comsumer behavior and motivation: why are sport event consumers so special? In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp. 21-36). New York, NY: Routledge.

About Kelsey Sampson, University of San Francisco

Kelsey is a Sport Management graduate student at the University of San Francisco and will graduate May 2017. Her professional life currently includes two positions at the University of California, Berkeley; Olympic Sports Operations and Game Day Fan Experience. As a former collegiate athlete, Kelsey’s passion lies within collegiate athletic administration and the student-athlete experience. This article is an edited version of a paper Kelsey prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Sport Marketing class at the University of San Francisco.

IImage of House of Champions, HDR taken from the parking lot before the Steelers vs Chargers game on 10/04/09, by Sean Hobson, Accessed via Creative Commons license.