- The Washington Times - Monday, June 29, 2009

Last week the Washington Redskins announced changes to the tailgating policies (“Changes coming to parking, tailgating at FedEx,” Sports, Tuesday). Redskins Chief Operating Officer Mitch Gershman cited the number of tailgaters who often occupy multiple parking spots, making the lots congested when later-arriving fans try to park in their designated spots.

I have been tailgating since first acquiring season tickets several years ago and have been responsible in doing so, occupying only one parking space and not spreading out so far as to impede the flow of traffic. The procedure is printed on each game’s parking pass, so I comply. However, it seems that not everyone follows the same thought process, which is what brought about these changes.

The new procedures will have the parking attendants sending those vehicles whose occupants want to tailgate using more than one parking space to the back of a parking lot while sending the others (those who aren’t tailgating or will tailgate within a single parking space) to the front part of the lot. Is this is a good idea on paper? Maybe. However, the execution of this plan likely will resemble the train wreck that was the second half of the Redskins’ 2008 season.

How will these lot attendants be able to distinguish multispace tailgaters from single-space tailgaters? Will the ticket office print on our parking passes the oath, “I promise to take only one parking space”? What plans are there to monitor and enforce in the event that some fans forget or are unaware of this new policy?

Tailgating at FedEx Field is more than just cooking and relaxing. One gets a sense of community at a tailgate, where friendships are formed and kept through the years. The new policy, if implemented, would all but destroy tailgates: Family and friends split up across parking lots because they don’t line up to enter at the same time.

It always has been the practice of “first come, first served” for parking spaces, and we are dutifully there early each and every home game to get to those areas so we can tailgate responsibly. Our parking passes have stated clearly that we are to occupy only one parking space. Instead of directing people where to park, lot attendants should focus on monitoring and enforcing the existing single-space-occupancy rule when the lots open and direct those fans who don’t comply to move to the back of the lot.



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