Michigan Football Team

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Michigan Football Team

The usual joke about the Michigan football team, also known as the Detroit Lions, is that for a city composed of parking lots, a huge amount of tailgating does not take place. Fortunately, the people at Eastern Market have become the unofficial sponsors of tailgating in Detroit and the crowds number in the thousands at the Eastern Market lots before the game.

Sparse Tailgating Options

Before the football team moved into Ford Field in 2002, they played in the Silverdome, a massive stadium slightly out of town. The tailgating parties happened in the parking lots but the lack of success on the field meant that less people were making the trip out of town to watch the games. When they built Ford Field downtown, the attendances grew again, but the people who simply wanted to show up and watch the game took over the parking lots. The owners of the Michigan football team let this happen, which is why the hardcore tailgaters from the Silverdome are spread out in different locations across the city.

Eastern Market

With the lack of other tailgating options, the pre-game party that happens at Eastern Market each game day could easily surpass any other tailgate in the NFL. The Eastern Market is about half a mile from Ford Field and covers around eight different parking lots. The Eastern Market operates the parking lots as opposed to the Michigan football team, so you’ll have to respect their property and their right to eject anyone they feel is disrupting the party.

Photo courtesy of Dave Hogg

You can buy tickets on the day of the game, but the gates open four hours ahead of game time so be sure to arrive early to join the line as spaces fill up fast. The usual rules apply about only taking one space per car, no open fires and following the law regarding drinking alcohol. If you leave the Eastern Market with your car and then try to come back, you lose your spot and the whole entrance fee is charged again.

The Detroit Tailgate crew of the Michigan football team will put on themed days throughout the season relating to the time of year and the visiting team and fans are encouraged to check the website before they head down so that they can match the decorations. These may include gory Halloween scenes, turkeys for Thanksgiving or decorating your truck for the Christmas game. The Detroit Tailgate crew will also offer prizes for the best decorations and best party spirit, as well as the loudest rendition of the Detroit Lions fighting song, so make sure you know the words ahead of time.

Visiting fans are welcome and actively encouraged to find spaces in the Eastern Market as the owners feel that they add to the general party atmosphere. Light banter and name calling is allowed as part of the fun, but any fans caught making serious trouble from either team will be ejected from the parking lots and asked not to return. The Eastern Market people accurately identify trouble cars and people who are ejected are banned for life.

Unlike other places, the Michigan football team actively discourages fans from tailgating in the official parking lots. The main result of this is that fans cannot stay in the parking lot after the game has started, so at game time, they must enter the stadium or leave. The downtown location means that space is at a premium, so each parking space is too small for a car and a tent to set up. You’ll also need to find parking lot 4 if you have a truck or a RV which has oversized spaces.

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