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AEG has a different definition of tailgating than you (and the rest of the NFL)

By Hayley Fox
Published: Thursday, May 31, 2012, at 03:21PM
Farmers Field Updated Design Gensler / ICON Venue Group / AEG

A rendering for Farmers Field and the surrounding area.

The Downtown-based sports and entertainment giant AEG sent out a press release earlier this month trumpeting a "15,000 person family-friendly tailgate" for the new Farmer's Field. That salivating line is also on the Farmer's Field website.

Most football attendees would infer that a "tailgate" involves hauling a barbecue, food and beer to a stadium parking lot in one's vehicle and enjoying communing with friends and fans while sitting on chairs or tailgates before the game kicked off.

But when AEG gets into specifics of what they plan for the forthcoming downtown football stadium, it sounds like they are envisioning a grassy, outdoor food court though, with not a BBQ, car or store-bought beverage in sight.

AEG is working with the city and the L.A. Convention Center to "completely modernize" and redesign Gilbert Lindsay Plaza and use that space for what they are calling pre-game "tailgating." Quite a different experience from what locals enjoy at USC games at the L.A. Coliseum, or what UCLA fans partake in at the Rose Bowl.

Indeed, AEG's plans involve having booths set up from a variety of vendors to feature local restaurants and having them available to fans on the way to the game. So far, Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles and El Tepeyac have shown interest in signing on.

AEG's VP of Communications Michael Roth said they wanted to think of a "very creative way" to show off the city's diversity and expose DTLA residents and visitors to an array of food.

So where do the coolers and homemade food grilled next to the bumpers of SUVs come in? Apparently nowhere, yet.

The definition of a tailgate is: "To participate in a picnic that is served from the tailgate of a vehicle, as before a sports event."

There will be plenty of parking space with the two new lots that are planned for the site, but Roth said they're still in the process of designing these structures and haven't established the rules for these areas yet. He said AEG "will incorporate pre- and post-game activities" into the lots, and added that their "number one priority" is to create a safe, family and fan-friendly game.

AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke echoed these sentiments when he spoke with the Los Angeles Downtown News in April. He said the purpose of the new Gilbert Lindsay Plaza was to create a community friendly space.

“It does it in a way where we don’t have to worry about it becoming nothing more than a drinking event, ’cause we don’t want that,” Leiweke told the Downtown paper. “We will not allow that to happen here…the one thing we don’t want is another Bryan Stow incident,” he said, referring to the brutal beating a San Francisco Giants fan experienced in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium.

Today Roth emphasized that AEG doesn't own and operate all of the surrounding lots and he can't say what type of tailgating or pre/post-game activities will take place there. As for AEG's new lots, Roth said "it's premature to talk about every square foot in terms of what the rules are."

At a design conference at the L.A. Convention Center in May, Ron Turner of the Gensler architecture and design firm said plans for Farmers Field included creating more than a football field but an "event center." He also described the outdoor plaza as the "largest urban tailgate in America."

AEG's Ted Tanner said that by the end of the summer most of the city approvals should be in place, and that construction is expected to begin on the convention center in 2013 and on Farmers Field in 2014.

Farmers Field is expected to open in the Fall of 2017.


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