Sept. 27, 2010
Motorhomes enable tailgaters to bring the conveniences of home to every game, even when their team is on the road. Just ask FMCA members and their motorhoming chapters, who are taking football tailgating to the next level.
Cincinnati, OH October 22, 2010 -- Serious football fans, including Family Motor Coach Association members, realize that the best way to bring the party to the parking lot is in a motorhome.
Each weekend during the fall, thousands of football fans sporting colorful hats, shirts, and face paint pour onto college campuses to cheer their favorite team to victory. But these followers arrive hours — sometimes days — ahead of kickoff to do more than just see the game. They’re there to participate in the social phenomenon known as tailgating.
In recent years the tailgate party has become almost as big as the game itself, with participants and their equipment becoming more sophisticated. Today’s savvy tailgaters come prepared to put out a feast fit for an offensive line, with a variety of meats sizzling on the grill, chili simmering in a Crock-Pot, and all types of side dishes and munchies spread upon the tables. Not surprisingly, a growing number of these enthusiasts have discovered that the best vehicle to accommodate their mobile parties is a motorhome.
These rolling residences allow serious tailgaters to bring the convenience of home entertaining to each and every game, even when their favorite team is on the road. Extend the awning, pull out some tables and chairs, fire up the grill, roll out the coolers and food, and you’re ready to welcome other fans — even those rooting for the opposing team.
A motorhome also offers RV amenities that can’t be found in an automobile, namely electrical power; plenty of storage; onboard cooking, refrigeration, and lavatory facilities; and a place to comfortably continue the party should the weather turn ugly. Want to check out other games from around the country before or after your team has played? Many motorhome owners have satellite TV service and sophisticated outdoor entertainment centers with big-screen TVs and high-quality sound systems.
Many groups of motorhome owners park in the same area at home games and travel together for away contests. Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), an international organization of motorhome enthusiasts, has several chapters that were formed specifically for tailgating members who maintain loyalty to a particular school.
Steve Czarsty Sr. was one of the original members of the IPTAY Chapter of Clemson, FMCA’s first tailgating chapter. He said that the group’s mission is twofold: first, to bring together motorhome owners with an interest in Clemson University athletics; second, to broaden the support of IPTAY, Clemson’s athletic foundation, through projects to raise money for athletic and general scholarships at the school.
Besides the typical home-game gatherings — motorhomes can arrive aft Clemson’s Memorial Stadium as early as Thursday night and don’t have to leave until Sunday afternoon — the group traditionally hosts a prime rib dinner for the coaches’ wives, organizes an away-game caravan, and attends a spring rally to support athletic activities at the school. In addition to the standard food and fun, home-game weekends may include tours of the academic buildings on campus; a visit to an off-site business or tourist attraction; and a stop at the Clemson dairy store for ice cream, Clemson blue cheese, and milkshakes.
Since the IPTAY Chapter of Clemson formed in 1996, several other motorhome-owning football fanatics have started FMCA tailgating chapters of their own. They include the Gamecock Cruisers (University of South Carolina); Georgia Bulldog (University of Georgia); Hokie Travelers (Virginia Tech University); MSU Rolling Bulldogs (Mississippi State University); and Sooner Coaches (University of Oklahoma).
The Hokie Travelers originally included only Virginia Tech football fans but has expanded to include all types of Hokie supporters, said Bryan Katz, who helped start the chapter in 2005. The chapter parks as a group at home games, but Katz said it can be challenging to find enough room at away games to accommodate his legion of rolling Virginia Tech supporters, which could total more than 30 motorhomes. Sometimes they’re fortunate to find available spots at the game venue; other times they must make reservations at a nearby campground for their pre- and postgame activities.
While tailgating is what led to the formation of these chapters, the groups often will combine their love of football and travel into one event. When Virginia Tech faced Boise State in this year’s season opener at FedExField in Landover, Maryland, the Hokie Travelers arrived a few days early to sightsee in Washington, D.C., before heading to the stadium on Monday night. And since football season lasts just four months, these tailgating chapters will gather at rallies throughout the year to talk recruiting, discuss why the head coach is a genius (or should be fired immediately), and to relive memories.
So, if you own a motorhome but have yet to discover its value as a tailgating machine, what are you waiting for? Fill the coolers, pack the refrigerator, and make arrangements to set up your own party palace the next time you head to the stadium to root on your favorite team. And while you’re there, talk with other motorhome owners about forming an FMCA chapter for fanatics like yourselves.
Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) is an international organization for families who own and enjoy the use of self-contained, motorized recreation vehicles known as motorhomes. The association maintains its national headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has nearly 100,000 active member families. FMCA offers its members a number of benefits, including a subscription to its monthly magazine, Family Motor Coaching; an emergency medical evacuation program; trip routing; mail forwarding; and group rates on an emergency roadside assistance program. Perhaps the most important benefit of FMCA membership is the camaraderie and friendships that develop among people enjoying the common interest of motorhome travel and recreation. For more information, visit www.fmca.com.