Whether you're heading to Ford Field (or thereabouts) as a Lions Football fan from the 'burbs or you're in town to root for that other team, there are several things you should know before tailgating in Detroit. Listed below are some tips for Detroit Lions Tailgating:
Meeting Up and Filling Up
Michigan's Blue Law, which restricts the sale of alcohol on Sundays, could be problematic. For instance, restaurants and bars cannot serve "spirits" between the hours of 2 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Sundays. Since most Lions games start at 1 p.m. on Sunday, you should keep two things in mind:
- Double check that the bar/restaurant where you choose to meet will be open, and
- You'll need to buy the alcoholic part of your tailgating supplies the night before.
Parking Lots for Tailgating
Unlike the Pontiac Silverdome, Ford Field itself has limited parking. This means that the many small parking lots in and around the Foxtown/Theatre District pick up the slack. Even so, the best known place to tailgate in Detroit is Eastern Market, a location that is about 10 minutes away from Ford Field.
Eastern Market first attained notoriety as a tailgating spot in 2002 when Ford Field first opened. At that time, city ordinances regarding open alcohol and open fires prevented several parking lots closer in to Ford Field from offering a place to celebrate game day.
These days football fans have a lot more tailgating options, but Easter Market still has its advantages. In addition to its $5 shuttle service, it has a lot more port-a-potties and garbage cans than can be found elsewhere. Additionally, there is often a band for entertainment and always food for purchase. As of this writing, the cost to park at Eastern Market is $10 to park and $35 to tailgate.
Eastern Market isn't the only game in town. There are several parking lots that accommodate tailgating in and around Ford Field. The parking fee is anywhere from $10 to $30 depending on how far away the lot is from Ford Field. For instance, lots in Greektown run about $15 to $20. Most lots stagger the cars to allow room for tailgating and early exit. Word of warning: some lots have limited resources for tailgaters, so bring a garbage bag and perhaps a large, empty Big Gulp cup just in case.
The groups tailgating at the lots around Ford Field tend to be small (four-to-ten people), at least compared to the large groups found in other cities. They are also very friendly, even to the point of lending cooking supplies to fans of the away team.
On a nice day, tailgating gets started around 10 a.m., but you should still be able to find a place to tailgate if you arrive fashionably late.
When it comes time to actually head to the game, you should pack up the tailgate by 12:20 p.m. This will give you time to walk to the stadium and make it through security. If you enter Ford Field on the west side (away from Greektown) crowds might be thinner, which could cut down on the wait. No matter where you enter, however, expect to be frisked.
By the way, vendors charge $8 for beer in the stadium and ask for identification from just about everybody.
The Motown experience doesn't have to end with the game. If you're looking for other ways to spend time while in downtown Detroit, check out the Detroit Visitors Guide. In addition to information about museums, landmarks, restaurants, casinos and other attractions, it has practical information about how to get around town, hotels, weather, sales tax, and driving laws.
Things to Remember
- Don't bring an open container of alcohol into the passenger compartment of your car. You could be subject to a $100 fine and possibly a license suspension and points. M.C.L.A. 257.624a
- Michigan has a particularly harsh Minor-in-Possession (MIP) Law.
- Be careful when driving in and out of lots. There are a lot of people roaming around.