What about Tailgating?

April 27, 1994

The Washington Redskins' parking lot plans for their proposed stadium in Laurel leaves us puzzled.

Last winter, team owner Jack Kent Cooke spurned Gov. William Donald Schaefer's suggestion that he move his team to Camden Yards because Mr. Cooke said there wasn't ample room there for fans to have parking-lot tailgate parties.

Now, the Redskins are unveiling a plan that provides less parking area than Anne Arundel County code requires and encourages bus ridership to games. The Redskins say they still plan 10 times as much parking as would have been available at Camden Yards. They also contend those people who travel by car to Laurel will average 3.5 people per vehicle, about a person more per car than a state consultant's average.

The Redskins report their estimate is in line with at least a half-dozen National Football League teams, plus Baltimore's Memorial Stadium (where, of course, most everyone parked on surrounding neighborhood streets.) The state consultant counters that its estimate is also in accord with at least ...R...RTC half-dozen teams, including the figure for RFK Stadium, where the Redskins currently play.

Ultimately, Anne Arundel County and the Redskins are going to have to work out this conflict. Stadium traffic issues also affect neighboring Howard County. (The Redskins' proposal also requests a variance to allow more narrow parking spaces, so if Washington fans are unable to squeeze their Beamers into those spaces, Baltimoreans may be able to get some Redskins tickets after all.)

Naturally, the team wants to hold down infrastructure costs, although it would only hurt itself by severely underestimating parking needs. Weekly post-game parking lot snarls will wear thin on football fans. Local baseball fans know that among the beauties of Oriole Park is how rapidly traffic flows into and out of the site.

On the other hand, Oriole Park is also proof that many people who would eschew mass transit for their commute to work will happily use it for recreational events. If the Redskins succeed at prodding people onto buses, it's a plus for air and water quality because less asphalt means less pollution.

Still, how are folks supposed to tailgate on park-and-ride buses to Laurel? Fortunately, we have the solution: Rolling buffets. Remove a few seats on these charter buses, unfold a few tables in the aisles, put out linens and a spread. Voila! Mobile skyboxes. Then, if you're stuck in pre-game traffic, you just eat your way up Brock Bridge Road.

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