It’s the time of year when three American pastimes – boating, baseball and football – reach a fever pitch in popularity. Combine them and fans come together at stadiums across the country to enjoy game day on the waterway with boatgating.
Boatgating, also known as sailgating or stern-gating, provides a unique twist on the tradition of tailgating where getting to the game is part of the fun. This is no passing trend, as more Americans take to the water – 88 million Americans in 2012 – and half of the respondents to a December 2012 Kelton Research survey, expressed interest in trying boatgating.
Discover Boating, the U.S. recreational boating industry’s awareness program which helps people get on the water, has taken note of the increasing popularity of boatgating and compiled a list of U.S. on-water stadiums that provide the best boatgating experience for fans:
AT&T Park (San Francisco, Calif.)
AT&T Park is known for its prime location on San Francisco Bay. Boatgating options are available at nearby South Beach Harbor; where demand is high. Catch all the action or even a splash hit—home runs that land in the water, on the fly, without hitting the Arcade or Portwalk—from a boat anchored in McCovey Cove, where the scoreboard and replay screens are visible. Boatgaters can also catch additional action on the Bay with America’s Cup events taking place through September.
More information: SouthBeachHarbor.com
Citi Field (New York, N.Y.)
Skip the subway and head to the ballgame by boat. Cruise past the Statue of Liberty and take in the views of Manhattan’s skyline – all before even getting to the game. Dock at World’s Fair Marina for boatgating before making the short walk to the stadium. Tennis fans can also skip the traffic and take the Hudson River to the U.S. Open, held later this month at Arthur Ashe Stadium near Citi Field.
More information: NYCGovParks.org/facilities/marinas/13 or 718-478-0480
EverBank Field (Jacksonville, Fla.)
With its relatively warm weather year round, many football fans skip the highway and take to the waterway on game day. Stadium cheers can be heard throughout Metropolitan Park Marina on the St. Johns River, which is walking distance to the stadium. The marina offers nearly 80 slips that can accommodate boats up to 80 feet. The annual Gator Bowl and Florida-Georgia game held at EverBank Field offer college football fans the chance to get in on the boatgating fun.
More information: COJ.com or 904-355-4857
Heinz Field (Pittsburgh, Penn.)
Located on Pittsburgh’s North Shore, Heinz Field is situated on the banks of the city’s famed three rivers – the Monongahela, Ohio and Allegheny. Avoid the car traffic and arrive by boat. Join this group of dedicated pro football fans on the water, including many who arrive days in advance to secure prime docking and mooring spots along the Allegheny’s North Shore. Another boating option is to board the Clipper Ferry at Station Square that docks at the main entrance to Heinz Field.
More information: BoatLocal.com/Pittsburgh or 412 -355-7980
Husky Stadium (Seattle, Wash.)
University of Washington football fans have the right idea – arrive by boat, moor in Lake Washington, and climb aboard the shuttle boat service to Husky Stadium. The game day views of the Cascades and scenic Lake Washington from this locale are tough to beat. Doors to the newly renovated Husky Stadium open on August 31. Take your own boat or check out the array of charter options in the area, just make sure to get your moorage or charter permit before game day.
More information: http://www.huskystadium.com/2013-game-day/transportation or 206-543-4895
Nationals Park (Washington, D.C.)
Gangplank Marina provides more than 300 slips in the protected waters of the Potomac River’s Washington Channel giving baseball fans a perfect spot for that nautical tailgate. When boatgating activities wrap up at the marina, catch the first pitch by hopping aboard a water taxi, which drops off at Diamond Teague Park, the closest location to the ballpark.
More information: GangPlank.com or 202-554-5000
Neyland Stadium (Knoxville, Tenn.)
The Vol Navy, as this infamous group of football and boating aficionados are known, arrive by boat to cheer on the University of Tennessee Volunteers during home football games. On the banks of the Tennessee River, Volunteer Landing is a three-mile riverwalk in downtown Knoxville that includes a visitor center, full-service marina and restaurants. For home football games, expect plenty of boats tied up and grills fired up amidst a sea of orange and white. Boat rentals are also available making it easy for everyone to join in the on-water fun.
More information: TheMarinas.net or 865-633-5004
Soldier Field (Chicago, Ill.)
A Soldier Field tailgate takes on new meaning with one of the best kept secrets in Chicago – getting to the game by boat. Located just east of Soldier Field, Burnham Harbor has 1,120 slips in a protected cove on Lake Michigan. Get in on the action early in the season for prime boatgating festivities before the harbor closes in October.
More information: ChicagoHarbors.info/harbors/burnham or 312-747-7009
Visit Discover Boating’s boatgating page for more information.