Tailgate parties are a traditional site at football stadiums across the country. With more and more fans reluctant to pay stadium prices for food & drink, more & more fans are attending and hosting tailgate parties. We caught up with Brian Tomaska from the New York Jets L7 tailgate for an insight into the world of tailgating.
How did the L7 tailgate start?
L7 started as the brainchild of Joe Grinwis (@L7Panda), Mike Milillo (@L7MikeM) & Mike Catalano (@MikeCatNYJ). The guys met via twitter and determined lot L section 7 would be the spot to 'tweetup' for the Jets home games at the New Meadowlands Stadium. The gathering grew during preseason with the addition Lori Brannigan (@Double_o_six) and Erik Manassy (@e_man). As the inaugural season at the New Meadowlands Stadium progressed L7 Tailgate grew. On 11/21 against Houston Texans, L7 grew grew to epic proportions with at-close to 50 people attendance. This was my (@btomaska) & my wife Suzette's (@CrepeSuz0106) first appearance and we were hooked instantly. Towards the end of the season we welcomed Brian Imemba (@NYJSec133) to the family, we ended the season on our highest note with Woody Johnson & executive VP Matt Higgins stopping for pictures prior to the season finale against the Bills. All this through the power of social media!!
What sets you apart from other Tailgates?
The first thing that comes to mind when comparing L7 to others is that we don't charge for attending. L7 runs by all the members contributing to the event. No one comes empty handed. From Rex Ryan burgers to Panda's Patties, Brian I's sausage and peppers to any number of Suzette's dishes (how many tailgates have crepes before early games?). Its a total team effort. Another part of what sets us apart is the dynamic. A lot of tailgates have been together since Shea Stadium, or are large families that are too tight knit to welcome new members. We pride ourselves as being totally formed and grown entirely by twitter. I challenge you to find a second of the tailgate where no one is using their phone too tweet, text or post a Facebook status! Suzette, myself and Joanne (@MissJtotheK) openly share a story about how apprehensive we were to walk into a tailgate party not having met any of the participants, but the instant we stepped out of the car, we were welcomed as if we had seen long lost friends.
What would fans enjoy attending L7 enjoy the most?
I think fans would mostly enjoy the welcoming atmosphere in addition to the wide age range. This is not a clique of 20 somethings, or any other age group. We have folks here from their early 20's to their 50's and 60's. In true twitter style, it is not uncommon to hear people referred to as their twitter handles. I think another thing fans would enjoy is as the tailgate grows, so does the guest list. We have had the pleasure of having Joe Bengingo & Evan Roberts of 660AM, Darrell Revis's manager John Geiger (@GeigerGeiger), Woody Johnson and others stop to say hello. We also hope to see Jets beat writer Manish Mehta (@TheJetsStream) and CBS News Otis Livingston (@olivingstonnyc) make an appearance or two this year.
Do you Tailgate or arrange meeting points for fans during road games?
In its inaugural year, several members of L7 hit the road and met up at the playoff games in New England & Pittsburgh. We also put together impromptu 'L7 tweetups' throughout the year, like the time a bunch of us met at a bar in Connecticut for the Patriots game during the regular season, or off season parties. This year Joe is currently organizing a trip to Washington for 12/4 game against the Redskins. He is in touch with a Redskin tailgate group that is willing to welcome an 'enemy' tailgate. This trip would be an incredible tribute to Lori who lives in DC, but drives to New Jersey for every home game.
Whats the most bizarre incident to happen since L7 was launched?
I wouldn't call this a bizarre incident, but the most memorable moment was the tailgate before the Cincinnati Bengals game on 11/25. This was Thanksgiving (traditionally spent with family and loved ones, being thankful for our blessings). On this chilly, misty night, the core group of the L7 family shared its own Thanksgiving feast. Erik's dad carved a turkey that Lori had prepared, whilst Suzette's sweet potato casserole warmed on the gas stove and we all huddled under a tent enjoying the trimmings and sipped Jets uncorked wine with our 'other family'. It was truly a moment that will be remembered forever. We hope to have a little better weather and attendance this year when we celebrate Christmas Eve prior to The Giants game.
Who's the joker and worst dressed at the L7?
The great thing about the L7 is that we don't really have one particular character that stands out, nor do we have any chest painters or super heroes (yes.. they do exist wandering round the lot). That being said. Alex (@NYJ_Amatt1 and Jimmy (@jimmyJets) standing at the top of a truck leading the parking lot in the J...E...T...S chant, its a sight...or Joe's wool panda hat. Anything can happen.
For those us who've not been to a tailgate,please explain 'beer pong'?
I can spend pages describing 'beer pong' and its rules ,but in brief it is a drinking game found in many colleges around the country. There are many variations, but we play two person teams on either side of a folding table. Each team sets up a pyramid of 6 solo cups (similar to bowling pins) and distributes a can of beer throughout. Each team alternates shooting a ping pong ball at the oppositions cups. When your opponents sinks a shot you or your teammate drink the contents and play continues until one team has sunk all of the targets. We will be having the first annual L7 Beer pong tournament throughout the 2011 season, even if you don't play, it is fun to see how heated the trash talking gets!!
What do you have planned for the upcoming season at L7?
There really isn't a whole lot of planning that goes into L7, it is pretty much self sustaining. I am sure once the lockout is resolved, and our schedule is definitive, the core members will discuss who will be bringing particular supplies and staple items. Although as I mentioned earlier, we do hope to add to our high profile visitors as well as solidify the Washington 'L7 Road Trip'.
What are your seasons expectations for the Jets?
As usual I have high hopes for our Jets this year. I think with our now 3rd year quarterback and having back to back trips to the AFC Championship game, as well as some 4th quarter comebacks last year, the questions of him being a 'wildcard' will begin to fade. With the lack of free agency signings it is tough to know exactly who will be wearing the green and white this year, but I hope to see Antonio Cromartie back, and as unlikely as it is Braylon Edwards, Sanonio Holmes and Brad Smith. Sadly I'm afraid that with the kick return rule change we have seen the last of Brad Smith and either Holmes or Edwards will be replaced by another free agent.
Did you like what the Jets did in this years draft?
I was very happy with our draft this year. From what I hear we really picked up some quality on the defensive side of the ball. I was also happy that we didn't really trade away any future picks to change our draft position. It was a little tough this year watching rounds go by without a pick. L7 would gladly welcome any of our fellow Jets fans from across the pond. Suzette was born in Coventry, with relatives throughout England, so you folks would have someone that prides herself on her heritage to help familiarize you with the tail area, or even the game.
A huge thank you to Brian Tomaska firstly for his patience with the emails back and forth, and for agreeing to do all this. You can follow the members of the L7 tailgate on twitter (see below) Visit the L7 website www.l7tailgate.com
Brian T @btomaska Suzette @CrepeSuz0106 Joe @L7Panda Mike M @L7MikeM
Mike C @MikecatNYJ Brian I @NYJSEc133 Erik @e_man Lori @Double_o_six
Randy @Jetdom Alexandra @NYJ_AMatt18 Alan @AlanLern Jimmy @JimmyJets
Tim @TimRyan83 Craig @craigcayetano Jerry @2Smart4 Ali @its_ALI_apples
Joanne @MissJtotheK Mark @Cazzball Paul @pAuLie_bRuZ Drew @drewfromjersey
Lauren L @laportal Laur @LaurNYJ Deb @LilMissNYJet @L7tailgate