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Spring 2020






NASCAR SEASON insidetailgating.com


In With What’s New For 2020


s we enter 2020, whether technically a new decade or not, you feel a sense of renewal. Across sports and lifestyle landscapes, there’s an influx of refreshing updates and additions, whether it’s adding five sports to the Tokyo Olympics or reworking the NASCAR schedule, all in the hopes of bringing in more fans. We can’t wait to see what transpires and experience it all right along with you! Inside Tailgating kicks off 2020 with our Spring magazine, the first quarterly issue of the year, by taking a fresh look at all that’s ahead. We’re excited to feature“Grillseeker” Matthew Eads in our cover story. Eads is a former Marine turned gourmet grillmaster, who rose through the ranks of Instagram and landed a cookbook deal. “Grill Seeker: Basic Training for Everyday Grilling” is one of the best-selling grilling cookbooks on Amazon. Enjoy a preview of it that includes a full day of grill-ready recipes—great for tailgating on a NASCAR weekend. Read his story and you’ll quickly see what we like so much about Eads. His grillingas-a-lifestyle philosophy aligns with our tailgating-as-a-lifestyle philosophy and we look forward to future collaborations. He’s a grilling authority, who can answer our grilling quandaries and whip us into gourmet griller shape in no time (hopefully no push-ups or running required!) This issue will also get you prepared for two of the biggest tailgating scenes of the spring—NASCAR and Major League Baseball. Learn what’s new in both the NASCAR race schedule and rules package, while getting pointers on who, what, where and how to watch this season, including the 411 on Fantasy NASCAR. So, let’s see, that’s fast cars, travel, tailgating and friendly wagers? Yes, please! With Major League Baseball’s spring training underway, we’ve got helpful hints on visiting your favorite team’s camp. Our article includes a breakdown of all 30 Major League camps for easy reference as well as some insider tips on navigating each camp from our Content Editor, Carroll Walton, who spent almost 20 years covering Major League Baseball. We also encourage you to refresh your tailgating arsenal this spring—whether it’s to help you stay dry, multitask while holding a beverage, stay eco-conscious with a sustainable setup or up your cornhole game—with our Top 5 Hot New Tailgating Products for 2020. We hope you enjoy! Tailgate Better, Tailgate Forever!

11 Good Eads: Former Marine Turns

Grilling Hobby into Lifestyle

GRILLS & GEAR 4 Party Shack Florida Company


Brings Luxury to Any Tailgating Venue

8 Hot New Tailgating Products for 2020


19 NASCAR Preview: What to Watch for in 2020 24 Top 5 Tracks for NASCAR Tailgaters 28 Spring Training 2020 Guide: Helpful Hints for

Navigating all 30 Major League Camps



Elizabeth Moore Chief Creative Tailgater



DESIGN & PRODUCTION BY Fiddlehead Studio & Press:

W. STACEY MOORE III: Managing Director smoore@insidetailgating.com

ELIZABETH MOORE: Creative Director elizabeth@insidetailgating.com

JOANNA BUONO: Art Director joannambuono@gmail.com

ELIZABETH MOORE: Creative Director elizabeth@insidetailgating.com

MICHAEL KEAN: Business Development michael@insidetailgating.com

CARROLL R. WALTON: Content Director carroll@insidetailgating.com

NIKKI POPE: Social Media nikki@texasmarketingco.com

Inside Tailgating Spring 2020, Copyright© 2020 by Tailgating Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without permission is prohibited. Inside Tailgating™ is the trademark of Tailgating Ventures, LLC.

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Florida Company Brings Luxury To Any Tailgating Venue

by Carroll R. Walton, carroll@insidetailgating.com



rom Jacksonville, Fla., the part of the country that brings you the Daytona 500 and the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party for Georgia-Florida football games, comes Party Shack, a company that makes portable VIP suites. Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan has dubbed them “skyboxes in the parking lot,” and that’s basically what they are. These 20-by-20-foot suites can be towed behind a standard pickup truck. They fit in a single parking space. And most importantly they provide tailgaters an indoor-outdoor venue to gather, eat and socialize with an option to escape the elements. The VIP suites can accommodate up to 45 people, including 10 seated inside at any one time. They feature a top deck veranda, hi-definition TVs both inside and out, two retractable awnings, bluetooth soundbars and more.


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Party Shack founder and CEO Bobby Bowers came up with the idea while huddling under a VIP tent before a Jacksonville Jaguars game during a downpour. “We were standing outside of a billion

dollar stadium, and we had gotten dropped off in limousines,” Bowers said. “I thought ‘Well, there’s a little bit of a void here.’” Even a high-quality tent like the kind used at weddings didn’t stand a chance in those conditions. The décor was nice, Bowers said, complete with palm trees, string lights and lounge couches. But with rain and 10 mph winds gusting into the tent, none of that seemed to matter. “All I heard, as a product developer, was complaints,” Bowers said. “And the women saying ‘Hey husband, why’d you drag me here three hours before the game begins? I’d rather be at home in the air-conditioning looking at my 65-inch TV on my couch.’ Those excuses are basically ingredients to the demise of ticket sales in stadium venues.” In addition to the VIP suites, Bowers has created three other portable venues: 1) a Spectator Suite geared toward

outdoor events like motorsports, music festivals and golf that don’t already have readymade luxury suites 2) a porta-bar, complete with built-in generator, for clients looking to entertain or for on-site business opportunities and 3) a pop-up shop with three wall panels for on-site retail. The VIP suites can be stored, towed, and set up by a third party company arranged through Party Shack. The other three units can be built on a chassis with wheels for easy towing. Both the Spectator Suites and VIP suites give premium ticket-holders all the more reason to get to an event early and stay

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there later. “If you have the money and can afford a suite inside the stadium then you can show up two hours before kickoff and sit in the AC,” Bowers said. “But you’re removed from the tailgating atmosphere, the fun, the camaraderie, the ‘let’s everybody come together as a team’ experience.” Bowers and his family fell in love with the tailgating culture while his brother Brett Bowers played safety for Bob Stoops at the University of Oklahoma in the mid2000s. Their parents bought a 43-foot RV and drove it to Norman, Okla. for the season

and then flew in from their home in Ponte Vedra, Fla. to tailgate for both home and away games. The Bowers kept the tailgate going after games too, grilling pound after pound of burgers, chicken, fish, sausage and hotdogs, so Brett and his teammates could come join in the fun after the games. With memories of that 45-foot Fleet-


wood, Bowers wanted to give his Party Shack customers the luxury feel of an RV while saving them the cost and logistical headache of owning and operating one. Party Shack, which manufactures its units in a plant in South Georgia, rents the VIP suites through third party vendors for $1,500 per day. VIP Suites are also available for purchase for $64,995.00, which is typically more appealing for Party Shack’s corporate hospitality clients than everyday tailgaters. Either way, the benefit to the fans who attend events in them is amenities

similar to what they would get in an RV minus the sleeping quarters, which aren’t necessary anyway. “You get those comfort zone experiences with air-conditioning, the quartz countertop, the little kitchenette so you’re able to wash your hands off and you can store your liquor in the liquor cabinets,” Bowers said. “From when you’re at your house and you decide you want to go to the game to when you get in your Suburban, your Escalade or your UBER and you get to the game, you have that minimum expectation of a very similar experience of what you just had.” Party Shack is only about two years old but steadily gaining traction with giants in the sports industry like the NFL

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and NASCAR. With TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville as its launching pad, Party Shack has built a clientele of four NFL teams (the Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers) with six to eight more poised to join forces in 2020. Bowers said another 10 to 12 NFL teams are waiting to see how the first wave does. This time of year, Bowers’ emphasis shifts to motorsports, the PGA and other outdoor events with a need for portable spectator venues both before and during the event. In January, Party Shacks showcased one of their spectator suites at One Daytona, the shopping and entertainment district across from Daytona International Speedway, during the Rolex 24. Bowers designed his Spectator Suite with NASCAR in mind. He based it on impressions he got as a guest at the Monster Energy Suite on the infield during the

Daytona 500. “I only saw the NASCARs for 11 seconds,” Bowers said. “And for the next 60 seconds while they’re going around the track, I can’t see them. I don’t have a TV in front of me, and unless I have the headphones on, I have no idea what’s going on.” The choice seemed to be either air-conditioning or the view. But when he chose air-conditioning and stood there watching the race on TV, he wondered, “What was I really paying for?” Looking around at RVs parked on the infield, he saw how fans had built makeshift viewing platforms on top of their RVs. That’s what he had in mind when he created the 30-by-16-foot Spectator Suite that accommodates up to 60 people and features a panoramic viewing window and top deck veranda. “If you sat inside one of my Spectator Suites, you’d know that if a NASCAR goes

from the right to the left, you have beyond a 270-degree perspective visually,” Bowers said. “You barely have to turn your head to watch the NASCAR go from over your right shoulder, in front of you, (until it) disappears at your left shoulder. As soon as the NASCAR leaves your sight, you’re looking direct at the 55-inch flat screen TV with the coverage on there. So there’s not one point where you would see the NASCAR that you’re rooting for disappear because visually it’s always going to be there.” Spectator Suites feature a retractable awning and seat up to 10 people inside. They offer fans something they can’t otherwise get at PGA golf events, concerts, festivals, air shows, water sports and more—shelter and sight lines. Party Shack has partnered with the likes of Live Nation, the Indy 500, Charlotte Motor Speedway, ESPN’s the X Games and more. It has set up qualified suppliers in eight major cities, with another 3-5 expected to be added before the end of the year. “We’re definitely the next best thing for tailgating, for fan engagements, for pregame experiences, live spectating experiences, in a more budgeted-friendly manner, a logistically friendly manner,” Bowers said. “We’re not overdesigning these units to where they’re so expensive that only the CEO can afford it. We’re not using materials that a million-dollar home would require. And at the same time they keep you in your comfort zone.” For more information, go to: partyshackusa.com

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by Elizabeth Moore, elizabeth@insidetailgating.com


Corrugated games and furniture from KORRUGATE IT!

Korrugate IT! is a new manufacturing and design company that specializes in making unique sustainable corrugated products for sports fans. Using custom designs or artwork from approved NCAA schools and sports franchises, they create bars, desks, beds, games, beverage bins and more. These items are great for college dorm rooms, alumni parties and tailgating setups. Korrugate IT! products are 100% recyclable and made in the USA. Prices vary, but the Standard Designs Bar retails for $105. korrugateit.com

PopThirst Can Holders and Cup Sleeves

Mobile phone-wielding PopSocket fans, who appreciate a better one-handed grip with this gadget, will also appreciate a better grip on their beverage of choice. In September, PopSockets introduced the PopThirst Can Holders and Cup Sleeves, which are essentially foam-insulated koozies with the interchangeable PopGrip attached. That means active, multi-tasking tailgaters can hold their beverages without spilling while playing cornhole, grilling, or dancing around and cheering! PopThirst Can Holders and Cup Sleeves come in a range of designs from flames to floral and now have official licensing from the NBA, NFL, MLB and NCAA, so you can show your team spirit with a logo on the PopGrip. PopThirst Can Holders and Cup Sleeves are insulated for hot and cold beverages, fit standard cans and cups from coffee to pint glasses, and feature a swappable thumb holder for a better grasp on your favorite beverage. What’s not to love about a fashionable, convenient, problem-solving product? They retail for $15. popsockets.com


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AllCornhole GameChanger Cornhole Bags

GameChanger (GC) cornhole bags are all the rage. American Cornhole League professionals can be seen using them in tournaments on ESPN, which has helped make GCs so popular that to order a set can require waiting lists and order limits. ACL pros like Frank Modlin worked closely with AllCornhole to develop these dual-sided bags. They are slick on one side and sticky on the other side, getting their traction from a suede square patch. AllCornhole has also released GameChanger Steady bags, which evolved from customer feedback. Also ACL-approved, the GC Steady’s are made with corners that are slightly more rounded, Slide-Rite fabric on the slick side, and they can be customized with your favorite NFL team logo. Like the GCs, the Steady’s are flying off the shelves too, so it’s best to order them well ahead of football season. Each set comes with eight bags and a choice of two colors. They retail for $90 or $97 with the bags plus a carry bag. allcornhole.com

The FanWrap™ is a hooded poncho/ blanket that folds up into a backpack. It’s versatile, functional and easy to handle. The FanWrap is designed to keep fans in the stands at sporting events through spring, fall and winter, and it can be also used in the summer as a picnic blanket at concert festivals or on camping trips. The FanWrap comes in one size and at 58 X 81 inches (roughly the size of a queen blanket) it fits most adults. It is fleece-lined with a waterproof shell. It snaps closed at the neck and comes with Velcro closures at the arm holes to keep the cold and wet out. The recessed hood and self-contained pouch make for easy folding and tucking away in a backpack or large interior pocket. The FanWrap retails for $59.99. thefanwrap.com

Blue Sky Outdoor Living Portable Fire Pit

The Blue Sky Portable Pellet Fire Pit can go just about anywhere, making it ideal for a tailgate. Couple that with the fact that Blue Sky just got Collegiate, NFL & NHL sports licensing, which means you can get one with your favorite team’s logo, this is win-win. This innovative fire pit burns wood pellets or smaller pieces of wood, generating significant heat whether in the backyard, camping, tailgating or at the beach. It’s made of heavy-duty steel with a high-efficiency design that produces minimal smoke, sparks, ash or odor. It’s easy to assemble and clean up, has a grate to keep the fire safely contained and comes with a carry bag. Weighing only 14.8 pounds, this compact fire pit nests together for easy portability. It retails for $89.99. blueskyoutdoorliving.com

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By Carroll R. Walton, carroll@insidetailgating.com


Former Marine turns grilling hobby into lifestyle



or most people, a career in the U.S. Marines breeds toughness, teaches responsibility, and develops both technical and life skills. For Matthew Eads, former Gunnery Sergeant turned celebrity chef, it also fueled his passion for grilling. Wherever Eads went during his 13 years of active duty, first as a jet engine and propeller mechanic and later a flight engineer, during deployments from Afghanistan to Bosnia, Somalia to Iraq, Eads always found his way to the barracks grill. Check out more Food & Drink at insidetailgating.com


FOOD&DRINK He had been cooking out since he was a teenager, growing up outside of Detroit, but not until he started grilling alongside soldiers from all walks of life, all around the world, did he feel a deeper sense of appreciation for what a common denominator it is. “I recognized early on that there was something about food and fire that brought people together,” Eads said. “Living in a barracks in Southern California, you might have a couple of Hispanic kids that were from L.A. You might have a really southern boy from Mississippi. There were people from all walks of life, but all our differences disappeared when we were around a grill, and seeing meat over this open fire. Everybody just came together while we talked about food and flavors and formed freendships and created memeories.” Eads celebrates that sense of connection with a movement he started on social media called “United by Flame.” Using that as a hashtag, he invites people to share grilling photos, anecdotes, recipes


and memories with him. That kind of sentiment, his engaging personality and of course, Eads’ skills on the grill have helped him grow a base of 36,600 followers on Instagram and turn a lifelong passion into a new career. On Instagram, Eads is the “Grillseeker,” which is a play on a Ted Nugent lyric about a thrill seeker from a tribute song he wrote about a bowhunter named Fred Bear who loved the outdoors. Eads has a website, Grillseeker. com, and a new cookbook out entitled

“Grill Seeker: Basic Training for Every Day Cooking.” The cookbook is both a how-to on gourmet grilling, with sections on grills, grilling tools and cooking techniques, and a practical guide to making grilling part of everyday cooking. It features more than 75 recipes including whole chapters on beef, poultry, seafood, sides, appetizers and desserts. The publisher, who first approached Eads about writing it, said they could consider it a success if they sold at least 3,000 copies. Within 24 hours of its release, Grill Seeker was leading Amazon book sales in several categories. Now it has sold more than 30,000 copies. Not bad for a guy who was still in the corporate world five years ago and only joined Instagram on a whim in 2016, when his three daughters encouraged him to do it. Eads had left the Marines at age 30 after his youngest daughter was born. He used the GI bill to go back to college at Penn State, while staying at home with daughter who was five months old when he started. Taking as many as eight classes a semester, he graduated in 29 months and made the Dean’s List. Eads took a job with General Electric, working the civilian side of what he already knew—C130 transport plane propellers. He worked his way up to program manager and got transferred to Washington, D.C., but eventually he realized corporate life and travel was still keeping him away from his family. “I was basically outsourcing my entire life,” Eads said. “It was like the nanny

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FOOD&DRINK was raising my youngest daughter. I was literally paying somebody to get groceries. It was nuts.” He had some financial flexibility to quit his job and figure out his next move. That’s when his daughter suggested he start posting pictures of all the food he loved to cook. He rekindled an old passion, found a new niche and developed a business model based on sponsorships with brands he trusted. Knowing that paid promotion can seem disingenuous, Eads made a commitment early on never to promote products for compensation that he wouldn’t be proud to give as a gift to a friend or family member. That core principle has allowed him to remain authentic and trusted in the community, while representing iconic brands like Omaha Steaks and Shark Ninja. Eads has his own tailgate now at Penn State games. And he’s broadened his profile with a series of TV appearances, starting with local news shows to promote his book and culminating in appearances on “Fox & Friends” and “The Today Show.” He joined “Fox & Friends” last July 4 for a segment showing viewers how to grill Tri-Tip steak in the middle of New York City. He was a long way from suburban Detroit, where he grew up grilling with a childhood buddy in the middle of the woods. Eads’ and his best friend James, who also grew up in Monroe, MI, got tired of eating bologna sandwiches for lunch, so Eads decided to borrow his mom’s cast iron skillet. They created a makeshift grill out of rocks and rebar they found in a trash heap at a nearby construction site. “The first time I cooked, I was like ‘I’m hooked,’” said Eads, who had toted eggs and bacon a mile through the woods. “You could see a tangible result from something. It was that very primitive meat-over-a-fire kind of concept. That sparked my interest…” Their menu expanded as he and James took turns borrowing meat from their moms’ freezers. At age 13, they saved up to buy a used smoker. “I worked for a grocery store,” Eads

said. “And Danny—the old man that owned the grocery store—would give us meat that was going to expire the next day and we’d smoke meat on this thing.” His goal was to be better at it than his father. “My father was the smartest man I’ve ever met, but he was just horrible at cooking,” Eads said. “He used to cook everything over direct heat, super hot, so we would end up with burgers that were like hockey pucks or a steak that would be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside.” Eads loved the challenge of cooking something great out of whatever ingredients he could get his hands on. That continued during his time in the military. While stationed in Afghanistan, he used to barter bottled water and candy for local spices. He would use cardamom to season a chicken a la king MRE—meal ready to eat. He learned how to cook goat over an open fire while in Pakistan. “Anybody can take a good cut of meat and make it taste good, but to buy an old piece of shoe leather and make that taste good, that takes real craftsmanship,” Eads said. “So that’s where I learned the art of some really interesting techniques.” One of those is something Eads calls the “reverse sear” where he brings the meat up to temperature on indirect

heat first and then sears it at the end. It’s one of several techniques he explains in his cookbook. The more Eads learned about grilling the more he began to see it as a lifestyle, not just something to do on weekends or special occasions. That philosophy comes across in spades in his cookbook. Every recipe, including appetizers, side dishes and desserts, can be cooked on the grill. He’s got everything from French Onion Grilled Cheese Bites to CilantroLime Grilled Sweet Potatoes and even a Grilled Peanut Butter Banana Split. For Inside Tailgating’s spring issue, Eads planned out an entire day’s worth of recipes to use at an upcoming tailgate. (See Page 14). That includes recipes for grilling out breakfast, lunch and dinner. In both this issue and in his cookbook, Eads encourages tailgaters to keep grilling and the camaraderie that comes with it going all week long, whether at a big event or at home with family. “I tell people all the time when you go to a place like Benihana, the food is decent. but what you remember is that onion with the volcano coming out of it,” Eads said. “It’s the memories around cooking that I think are so important and get lost often.”

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n an exclusive for Inside Tailgating, “Grillseeker” Matthew Eads mapped out a day’s worth of meals to be cooked on the grill for those who love to tailgate all weekend long at NASCAR events. He offers a great variety, proving the point that grilling is for more than just one meal of burger-flipping. Eads, the former U.S. Marine-turned-foodie, planned a menu for breakfast, lunch and a three-course dinner (including appetizer and dessert) with recipes from his new cookbook “Grill Seeker: Basic Training for Everyday Grilling” and his website www.Grillseeker.com. Check it out!


5 – 6 large eggs ½ lb chorizo sausage, crumbled ½ lb kielbasa, sliced ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese ¼ cup heavy cream 2 Tbsp. chives, chopped 1 Tsp. olive oil ½ Tsp. kosher salt


1. Light grill and set up for indirect heat, establish temperature at 325° F 2. In a 12” cast iron pan, evenly spread olive oil on bottom and sides to prevent eggs from sticking. 3. Crack eggs into pan. 4. Pour heavy cream all over the egg whites. 5. Sprinkle crumbled chorizo on egg whites. 6. Place sliced kielbasa in gaps between egg yolks. BREAKFAST:

Smoked Eggs and Chorizo Sausage “Breakfast is far and away my favorite meal of the day, so I have a hard time limiting it just to mornings. Aside from being delicious, it’s a fun change of pace to have a ‘breakfast for dinner’ day. Add that breakfast is done on the grill, and it increases the fun factor 10 times on this meal… “This skillet incorporates many of my favorite things, and the quick cook time means your eggs will be kissed with just the tiniest hint of smoke. I prefer the runny yolks of this recipe, but if that’s not your thing you can roughly beat the eggs and cream together before putting them in the pan. For those who like the heat, I highly suggest using a dab of your favorite hot sauce on this one too!” —Matthew Eads


7. Sprinkle salt over entire skillet. 8. Evenly spread cheese over egg whites. 9. Add one wood chunk of your choice to hot coals, (if using a gas grill use a smoke tube with pellets) and place skillet over indirect heat. 10. Close lid and let cook for 13-15 minutes till eggs whites are firm and yolks are still a bit runny. 11. Remove from grill, top with chives and serve hot.

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Ultimate Grilled Cuban Sandwich “I’m no stranger to big sandwiches. If you’ve seen my Instagram account, you’ll know I sometimes get carried away, and a single sandwich can often feed a family of four. This is one of them; in fact this might be my favorite sandwich to date. The pork is tender, amazingly juicy, and super flavorful from the very simple rub we’ll use. The sandwich spread is bold with a slight hint of heat, and that crunch from the pickle just can’t be beat. This is also a great sandwich to make for a party. Just slice it into 1-inch squares and skewer it to serve as a finger food.” —Matthew Eads


2 1-1.5 lb. pork tenderloins ½ cup mayonnaise ¼ cup yellow mustard 5 slices Swiss cheese (per sandwich) 5 thin slices deli ham (per sandwich) 3 thin slices dill pickle (per sandwich) Fresh baked rolls of your choice

mustard with 2 tablespoons of the Cuban rub, mix thoroughly. 4. While grill preheats and the spread melds together, rinse off pork tenderloins with cold water. Trim off any visible silver skin and pat dry.

assembled sandwiches in grill over indirect heat for about 4 minutes, or until the cheese melts. 12. Remove from grill, top with pickle slices and your top bun, then slice and serve.

5. Rub pork with very thin coat of oil and season entire surface with a light dusting of the rub.

2 tbsp oregano olive oil

Rub Ingredients ¼ cup brown sugar

6. Place pork over direct medium heat on the grill, cooking for 12-15 minutes, turning every 1.5-2 minutes.

¼cup smoked paprika 3 tbsp coarse sea salt 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper 2 tbsp garlic powder 2 tbsp onion powder

7. Remove pork when internal temperature reaches 140° F. Close grill lid but don’t turn it off.

2 tsp dried oregano

8. Baste pork with a light coat of oregano olive oil and let rest 5-10 minutes.

1 tsp cayenne pepper

9. Slice pork thinly.


10. Apply a generous portion of the mayonnaise and seasoning mixture to the top bun and bottom of each sandwich roll and set aside.

2. Combine all rub ingredients and whisk together.

11. Assemble your sandwiches by layering slices of pork, ham, and cheese on the bottom bun. Place the

2 tsp cumin

1. Light your grill and set it up for direct medium-high heat.

3. Combine mayonnaise and yellow

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Hickory Smoked Jack Cheese MOINK Balls “First things first: There is no MOINK animal. Don’t ask for it at your local butcher shop, you’ll get a weird look. MOINK balls get their name from the sounds the components make: Beef (moo) and Pork (oink). Put them together and you get a combination that’s hard to beat…. “Glazed with a pepper jelly and wrapped in bacon (because if you can’t wrap it in bacon, what’s the point?) these appetizers are going to go fast at your next cookout. I once watched a friend devour 13 of these hearty appetizers in one sitting and legit thought he was going to burst, so be sure to account for those with big appetites when you’re making them….  “I’ve added a twist on the typical MOINK recipe, by stuffing these delicious concoctions with cheese. Why? Because I like cheese. ‘I like cheese’ is my default response to any question I can’t answer. Try it out sometime: ‘I like cheese’ is a surprisingly good answer for many of life’s questions, and certainly a topic-changer when you’re in a pinch.” —Matthew Eads


½ lb. ground beef, at least 20% fat ½ lb. pork sausage ½ cup breadcrumbs ¾ cup pepper jelly ¼ cup sweet onion, diced 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1 medium finely diced jalapeño, seeded and veined (optional) 2 cloves freshly minced garlic 8 cubes Pepper Jack cheese cut into ½” square cubes 8 slices thin cut bacon cut in half 2 Tbsp. BBQ rub or your favorite rub, plus a few shakes 1 Tbsp. Olive oil



1. Heat oil in small sauté pan, adding jalapeno, onion and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes or until onions become translucent. Set aside. 2. In mixing bowl, add ground beef, sausage, breadcrumbs, egg, BBQ rub and sauté mix. Mix thoroughly and divide into 8 equal portions. 3. Lightly form each portion into a ball and insert cheese cube into center of ball ensuring that the meat “seals” the cheese all around. 4. Place balls in freezer for 30-40 minutes. This step is critical in order for the bacon to crisp during the cooking process. If bacon and meatballs are the same temperature when they go on the grill, the meatball with be done before the bacon is crisp. 5. Light grill and set up for indirect heat, add wood chunks. Place drip pan under cooking area to catch bacon grease and avoid the mess in your grill. Maintain grill temperature at 325° F

balls can be wrapped completely by wrapping the first half of the slice in a north and south direction, and the second half in an east and west direction on the ball. Secure bacon with tooth pick. 7. Lightly dusk MOINK balls with a few shakes of the BBQ rub. 8. Place on grill on the indirect heat side, close lid and let cook for 20 minutes. Check internal temperature, we’re looking for about 145°-150° F internal. 9. Glaze MOINK balls with pepper jelly, close lid and allow to cook for another 5 minutes or until internal temperature is 160° F which is safe for ground pork. 10. Remove from grill and serve hot.


Warming the jelly in the microwave for 30 seconds makes it much easier to glaze.

6. Wrap each ball with 2 half slices of bacon. By cutting the bacon in half the

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Smoked BBQ Meatloaf “Comfort food is my jam so while I don’t love the cold in the winter, the comfort food makes up for it. There’s just something to be said for curling up by the fire and having a nice bowl of beef stew or a hearty BBQ meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. It brings back memories of my childhood…. “Unlike an ordinary meatloaf, this smoked BBQ Meatloaf isn’t just a great weeknight meal, it’s special enough to serve at a dinner party. I know, I know—the idea of serving meatloaf at a fancy dinner party seems a bit off, but trust me on this one. This meatloaf is an absolute show stopper… “I grew up eating meatloaf from the oven and have adapted and modified this age-old classic for the grill. What I love about smoking meatloaf is how well the porous ground meat takes the smoke—better than just about any other proteins I’ve smoked.” —Matthew Eads


1.5 lbs ground beef (80/20) 1 lb ground Italian sausage or ground pork


1. Light your grill or smoker and set it up for two zone heat, getting the temperature up to 235 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over the stove and sauté the onions, celery, peppers and optional jalapeños. 2. Tear the Italian bread into small chunks and place in a medium sized mixing bowl. 3. Add buttermilk to bread chunks and soak till milk is absorbed. 4. In a large mixing bowl, add ground beef, sausage, 3/4 cup of BBQ sauce, cooled onion, celery and pepper mixture, Worcestershire sauce, soaked bread chunks, eggs and soup mix. 5. Mix ingredients thoroughly together. 6. On a sheet of parchment paper or tinfoil, form the mixture into a loaf and transfer it to a cooling rack for smoking. 7. Place the cooling rack, with loaf on it, on the smoker and insert a reliable leave-in thermometer. 8. Add wood chunks to your grill and place loaf inside over indirect heat, close the lid and let the charcoal and wood do its job. 9. When the internal temperature of your loaf gets to 150 degrees, it’s time

½ cup chopped celery

to glaze it with remaining BBQ sauce and crank the heat up in the cooker to 350 degrees. 10. Cooking at a higher temperature during the last 10 degrees of cooking allows the sauce to set up and get that beautiful color. 11. When internal temperature of 160 to 165 degrees is reached it’s time to pull it off the cooker and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

¼ cup diced red bell pepper ¼ cup diced yellow bell pepper 1 medium jalapeño seeded and veined, finely chopped (optional) 1 medium Vidalia onion chopped 1 package dried onion soup mix 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 2 tbsp olive oil 4 thick slices of fresh Italian bread ¾ cup buttermilk 2 large eggs 1½ cups barbecue sauce, divided equally

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“S’mores are classic treats that were made for the grill. But there are a few drawbacks to the original recipe we learned around the campfire: the graham crackers, while a great flavor, are a terrible base for this gooey dessert. They crumble, they crack, the filling goes everywhere. In the end, you’re a sticky mess, coated in graham cracker crumbs…. “I offer you the adult solution to your s’mores craving: TORTILLAS. By using a tortilla instead of a graham cracker, you eliminate the mess, keep the gooey filling where it belongs, and you get a great new flavor profile that brings a little sophistication to a simple treat. I like using dark chocolate to balance the sweetness of the marshmallows, but if you’re in the mood for a real childhood flashback, find your favorite milk chocolate bar.” —Matthew Eads


4 large flour tortillas 1 cup dark chocolate chips 1 cup crushed graham crackers 2 cups mini marshmallows


1. Light grill and set for indirect heat, establish temperature at 325° F. 2. Spread chocolate chips evenly over half of each tortilla. 3. Sprinkle crushed graham crackers evenly over chocolate. 4. Place marshmallows on chocolate and fold the other half over, on top of the marshmallows. 5. Place on grill, close lid and cook for 7 minutes or until marshmallows melt. 6. Remove, cut each tortilla into three triangle shapes and serve warm.


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Fans&Thrills By Elizabeth Moore, elizabeth@insidetailgating.com



What to Watch For in 2020

ASCAR is roaring into it’s 72nd season with plenty of driver, car and schedule changes. It’s Jimmie Johnson’s last season as a full-time driver, the Championship races are moving to the Phoenix Raceway, and all eyes are fixed on defending Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, giving fans all the more reason to get excited about the upcoming season. Discover what 2020 has in store for race fans across the country. Check out more Fans & Thrills at insidetailgating.com



DRIVERS TO WATCH Y ou may have your favorite, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the competition. Check out three of the biggest names in NASCAR and what they have on tap. KYLE BUSCH Everyone loves a winner, right? Whether or not you agree, the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion is definitely one to look out for in 2020 as he pursues his third career championship. After last year’s epic performance, with both regular season and playoff titles, five Cup Series wins and 17 Top 5 finishes, Busch has his sights set on topping his 2019 season. For his career he has 56 Cup victories and counting. DENNY HAMLIN Coming off one of the best seasons in his NASCAR Cup career, Hamlin

Kyle Busch

opened 2020 with a second straight victory at the Daytona 500 and is poised to make a run at the 2020 championship title. Having undergone shoulder surgery towards the end of 2019, Hamlin spent the majority of his off-season recuperating but showed no ill-effects in Daytona. JIMMIE JOHNSON Saying farewell as a full-time driver after 19 seasons, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champ Jimmie Johnson is looking to end his career on a powerful note. It’s been 20 years since a 30-minute conversation with Jeff Gordon helped land him a job with Hendrick Motorsports and set him on course for a standout career. An eighth championship title would be a heck of a way to go out.

Denny Hamlin

Jimmie Johnson

Where/How to Watch NASCAR


OX and NBC are splitting the broadcast rights to NASCAR this season. The first half of the season will air on FOX and FOX Sports 1 (FS1), starting with Daytona on February 9th and extending through the Toyota / Save Mart 350 on June 14th. The second half of the season will air on NBC and NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) beginning on June 21st with the Chicagoland 400 and extend through the NASCAR Cup Series Championship November 8th. Live stream races are available from the downloadable apps provided by most cable or satellite TV services. If you don’t have a traditional TV service, you can also stream the races with a subscription to an over-the-top (OTT) streaming service. Our top picks are: AT&T TV Now, Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV.


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Top NASCAR Races to Watch


f you can’t make it to every speedway or watch every race as it streams, you’re going to want to at least make sure you catch the big four in 2020.

DAYTONA 500: The Great American Race lived up to its billing with a photo finish and a second straight victory at Daytona by Hamlin, but it was overshadowed by a fiery crash on the final stretch that put Ryan Newman in the hospital. Amazingly, Newman was able to walk out of the hospital on his own power three days later TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY: You’ve got two chances to watch with the Geico 500 on April 26 and the Alabama 500 on October 4. Check out the $50 million renovation to Talladega’s infield in person or watch on TV as drivers take on NASCAR’s biggest track (tri-oval 2.66 miles). Drama is the norm at Talladega with a wide track that allows three-and four-wide racing. NASCAR CUP SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP: Championship weekend—scheduled for Nov. 6-8—is being moved from the Homestead-Miami Speedway where it’s been held for 18 years to the Phoenix Raceway. The move was made to generate fan excitement and boost TV viewership, though it has been met with mixed reactions among the racing community. Coupled with NASCAR’s changes to a lower downforce package this season, shorter tracks like Phoenix are expected to have more passing and lead changes during races, making for more exciting action. Check out more Fans & Thrills at insidetailgating.com





hase Holden, otherwise known as “Garage Guy Chase” on Twitter, RotoBaller.com, and Garage Guys Fantasy Sports podcast, is an expert on Fantasy NASCAR. Here, exclusively for Inside Tailgating, he shares his thoughts on what makes Fantasy NASCAR different from fantasy football, while providing some tips on how to prepare for and play the upcoming Fantasy NASCAR season.

Fantasy NASCAR is the biggest sweat in the fantasy sports world, which makes it the most intense fantasy game out there—even over fantasy football. Unlike football players who tend to hold on to their points production, driver points can come and go fast. You can have a good read on who will win or lose in fantasy football before the last game of the week. In NASCAR, there’s only one day of competition and no matter how good the driver, one small mistake can change everything. Here are some tips on the best way to prep, participate and enjoy the 2020 Fantasy NASCAR season.

Off to the Races With Fantasy NASCAR


ove over football fans, it’s time to explore fantasy sports where the rubber meets the road. Take your fandom to the next level and hop in your own driver’s seat as you create your own racing teams in Fantasy NASCAR. Whether you’re new to fantasy sports or a seasoned fantasy racing expert, each year delivers a new opportunity to outperform your peers.

Become the master of your own motorsports team when you hand-select drivers, learn about track rankings and follow along with real-life NASCAR drivers. There are three ways to play: draft-based fantasy NASCAR where you select a team and keep it all season (barring trades), class-based fantasy where the previous season’s performance impacts your drivers’ ranking this season, or the salary cap model that allows you to change drivers each week. To get in on the Fantasy NASCAR action, check out NASCAR’s official fantasy page or unaffiliated sites like FanDuel, DraftKings and Fantasy Racing Online, where choosing the best driver may earn you real cash and prizes. For analysis and insight, check out Garage Guys Fantasy Sports podcast.



some prep time before setting your lineups each week. Who to start and who to park depends on a lot of factors. It’s important to gather practice speeds, qualifying order, and driver history at a given racetrack. If you’re new to Fantasy NASCAR, an easy way to expand your knowledge is by reading articles and listening to podcasts. “Garage Guys Fantasy Sports Podcast” offers Fantasy NASCAR insight twice per week on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. For some of the best strategies on scoring the most points possible on a weekly basis, check out DFS Rankings by Drew Deen on Patreon.com. And to see my weekly breakdown of four drivers with big upside, check out RotoBaller.com.


The most popular way to play Fantasy NASCAR in 2020 is on daily fantasy sports websites such as DraftKings and FanDuel. Use your computer or smartphone to set your lineups each week and compete in tournaments or head-to-head battles with friends for cash. If you prefer to play in a season-long league for bragging rights, NASCAR.com  offers NASCAR Fantasy Live, which can also be accessed through the mobile NASCAR app.


website and app that you can set a lineup on will reflect the driver’s stats in points just like in Fantasy Football. You can also keep up with the race results on NASCAR.com.


a NASCAR tailgate like inviting friends you’re competing against in fantasy to talk smack with while enjoying the pre-race spread. You’ll definitely want to have your smartphone, tablet or computer nearby to keep tabs on your score and a television to watch the race on (the bigger the better.) Be sure not to forget the race day snacks and brews.

GARAGE GUY CHASE IS A NASCAR & NFL CONTRIBUTOR FOR ROTOBALLER (www.rotoballer.com). In 2019, Chase was a two-time Daily Fantasy

Sports tournament champion, a top-ranked DFS accuracy expert several times, and was nominated for the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s Racing Writer of the Year award. Needless to say, he is one of the most up-and-coming NASCAR analysts in the industry. Follow him on Twitter @GarageGuyChase.

GARAGE GUYS FANTASY SPORTS PODCAST: Garage Guys offers the perfect

balance of Fantasy Sports talk and party vibe conversation. Co-hosted by Chase Holden and Drew Deen. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Stitcher. Follow on Twitter @GGFSPodcast. —Chase Holden

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new NASCAR season means you’ve got new reasons to tailgate. This year, make sure to show love for your favorite driver by gearing up with chairs, tables, and canopies to display your NASCAR pride. While you’re at it, keep drinks cool with a NASCAR-approved cooler tote bag and koozies. And don’t forget your sun protection. Tracks like Talladega, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Daytona are known for their unrelenting heat once spring arrives. Also be sure to try out the recipes provided by “Grillseeker” Matthew Eads, whether tailgating at the track or homegating from the comfort of your couch or backyard. We’ve got you covered on InsideTailgating.com whether it’s with our “Grills & Gear” section for all your setup needs or “Food & Drink” for all the latest recipes to Tailgate Better, Tailgate Forever!

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TOP 5 Tracks for



by Carroll R. Walton, carroll@insidetailgating.com

ailgaters across the country are revving up for NASCAR season, and plotting out plans to visit some of the most legendary tracks in racing. Whether you’re new to NASCAR or a lifelong fan, we’ve got five stops you must make on your speedway bucket list. Granted, this list is our very subjective take on a subject that’s downright personal to people, and we respect that there are going to be differences of opinion. When the choices got tough, we turned to an expert in the field for advice: Kenny Wallace, former NASCAR driver, former FOX broadcaster, current dirt cart driver and noted man of the people. When Wallace wasn’t behind the wheel of a car or in the broadcast booth, he was liable to show up at tailgates and mingle with fans. So we took his word on places like Bristol and Talladega, and we realize you can’t go wrong with Dover, Charlotte, Michigan and more, but for now, for us, here are our Top Five:


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Because we’re traditionalists, and we grew up just 90 miles away from Darlington Raceway, the Bojangles Southern 500 is a must. It’s hard to beat Labor Day weekend in Darlington, where great racing meets old-school southern hospitality. Locals get in on the act, renting out their front lawns for camping space or doing some tailgating themselves. The track “Too Tough to Tame” has been a fixture on the circuit since 1950 and offers a variety of planned events, whether it’s the pre-race concert, celebrity autograph sessions, the family-friendly Raceway Rascals Clubs, or a break from the heat with a meal in the air-conditioned T4 Zone. Plus there’s plenty of free parking for those who are tailgating just for the day. darlingtonraceway.com


NASCAR in wine country? It’s the toast of road tracks, where fans get even closer to the action. You can tailgate along just about any turn or set up on a hill side to catch a breeze and take in the larger view. The course features 12 turns and 160 feet of change in elevation, giving both the racing and the setting such a different feel. Between the hilly vantage points, gorgeous weather, and bubbly to spare, Sonoma is such a unique venue in NASCAR. Fans are as likely to be eating gourmet meals and drinking wine at their tailgates as they are throwing back beers and burgers. sonomaraceway.com


Because it’s Daytona, the Super Bowl of NASCAR, and the most prestigious and storied race on the schedule. It’s also the first one of the season, which only adds to the excitement level. The party atmosphere might be a little tamer than the old days, but the infield at Daytona—with new and improved views and Lake Lloyd on the backstretch—is still the place to be. Family-friendly destinations nearby make Daytona an even bigger draw, giving you all the more reason to make the trek. Located within an hour’s drive of Daytona are Disney World, Sea World, and the Kennedy Space Center, not to mention all the beaches nearby. daytonainternationalspeedway.com

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Not only is the racing some of the fastest you’ll see, race weekend is Mardi-Grasmeets-NASCAR. Drivers ride floats and throw out colored beads during the “Big One on the Blvd” parade down Talladega Boulevard Friday night. And that’s just the beginning of festivities that include barbecue sauce wrestling, Jell-O crawls, and a party that rages on until 7 a.m. the morning of the race. Another perk of a 2.66-mile superspeedway is that all that wide open space means all the more room for RV tailgating, camping and ample free parking. There’s also “The Compound” an area designated exclusively for VIP tailgating. There’s a reason why race weekend in Talladega seems like its own holiday. talladegasuperspeedway.com


This half-mile track built into the Blue Ridge Mountains of East Tennessee packs in 165,000 spectators, making it one of the loudest and most intense venues in NASCAR. Given the short distance, speeds are lower, but with 40 cars packed in at the start, paint-swapping is inevitable. Blue Ridge Mountains of East Tennessee. The racing is some of the most intense in NASCAR, given the congestion, and given the setting, it’s also some of the loudest. Wallace loves fanfest and the hauler parade, not to mention the intensity created by the varied loyalties of race fans there. bristolmotorspeedway.com


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by Carroll R. Walton, carroll@insidetailgating.com

SPRING TRAINING 2020 GUIDE: Helpful Hints for Navigating all 30 Major League Camps


pring training is here! The sun is shining on Major League Baseball again, and each of the 30 teams has new hopes on the horizon. Wins and losses don’t count yet, the stadiums are more intimate, the players more accessible, and it’s a great time to travel to Florida or Arizona to catch your favorite team preparing for the upcoming season. Better yet, catch a bunch of them. We break down all 30 teams—the 15 in the “Grapefruit League” in Florida and the 15 in the “Cactus League” in Arizona—with 3 Helpful Hints about visiting each camp. We’ll give you an idea of what to expect when it comes to everything from parking to autograph-seeking, offering tips on how to make the most of your trip.


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Site: CoolToday Park, North Port, Fla. mlb.com/braves/braves-spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. After 22 years at Disney World, the Braves have moved to Florida’s West Coast where they open their first spring training at the brand new $125 million CoolToday Park. 2. Traffic is a problem with only one road in and out, especially the four-mile stretch from I-75 to West Villages Parkway. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive early. 3. Tailgating is permitted in single vehicle spaces only, unless arranged in advance with Group Sales. Grilling is allowed in the grassy area, provided you bring something to extinguish coals. Tents of any kind are prohibited.


Site: Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota, Fla. mlb.com/orioles/spring-training/guide

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Players and coaches may sign autographs from the time the gates open until 45 minutes before first pitch. At that time, ushers will ask fans to return to their seats. 2. Parking is $12 for cars and readily available with more than 1,800 spaces in lots in and around Ed Smith Stadium. 3. Children 12 and under and seniors 65 and older can run and/or stroll the bases after every 1:05 p.m. weekday game. Participants meet in Section 122 immediately after the game.

chance to watch the Red Sox take batting practice on the field. Call 239-226-4783 for information.


Site: Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland, Fla. mlb.com/tigers/spring-training/generalinformation

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Batting practice begins at 10:05 and the stadium doesn’t open until 11 a.m. but Drew Hannush of TravelFuelsLife.com points out that you can pay $5 to get in the stadium and watch from the grassy berm in left field. 2. Another great vantage point, he writes, is going to the practice fields directly behind the berm, where you can watch players who aren't playing in that day's game working out. 3. The Tigers might be the last team training in Central Florida but with good reason, as their relationship with Lakeland dates back to 1934. They moved into Joker Marchant Stadium in 1966 and it underwent a $50 million renovation in 2017.


Site: FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, Fla. mlb.com/astros/spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. If anybody is desperate for a fresh start, it’s the Astros, whose offseason—and 2017 World Series title—were tainted by revelations of a sign-stealing scandal. Veteran manager Dusty Baker takes over with the challenge of restoring order. 2. Prior to all Saturday home games, fans are invited to play catch in the stadium outfield. To participate, fans must bring their own gloves. Soft toss balls will be provided. 3. Sundays are Signature Sundays at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, which feature two Astros or Nationals players signing autographs (depending on which team is home that day.) Limited to the first 50 fans per player with autograph wristbands.


Site: Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, Jupiter, Fla. mlb.com/marlins/spring-training/ballpark/information-guide

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Make it two-for-one in Jupiter where the Marlins and Cardinals share a complex and alternate playing home games every other day. 2. Tailgating is allowed in the grass parking lots only. Open-flame cooking is prohibited. Pop-up tents are allowed as long as they are


Site: JetBlue Park at Fenway South, Fort Myers, Fla. mlb.com/redsox/spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Parking is $10 per vehicle and located in the East and West Lots, with overflow parking just south of David Ortiz Way. 2. Gates open two hours before first pitch. 3. The Red Sox offer pregame tours before every home game, beginning three hours before first pitch. Tours culminate with a

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FANS&THRILLS not staked into the ground and don’t take up additional parking spaces. 3. Fans are allowed into stadium 1 ½ hours before first pitch. Tickets for the grass berm down the right field line (a cheaper alternative to grandstand) can be purchased on the day of game only. Lawn chairs are not permitted, but fans may bring blankets to sit on.


Site: CenturyLink Sports Complex, Fort Myers, Fla. mlb.com/twins/spring-training/ballpark/ information-guide

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Tailgating is not allowed at CenturyLink Sports Complex except for Minnesota Day on Sunday, March 15, when the team will host a pre-game tailgate party before the 1:05 game against the Atlanta Braves. 2. Children less than 30 inches tall get in free with a ticketed adult. Lactation rooms are available for nursing moms. 3. Small blankets and towels are allowed for seating on lawn down the right field line and beyond the left field fence, but no chairs.


Site: Clover Park, Port St. Lucie, Fla. mlb.com/mets/spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. The Mets’ are putting the finishing touches on the $57 million renovation to the newly-named Clover Field this spring. Changes to look for are a party deck and bar in the outfield, a viewing deck to see back fields, new concession areas, bathrooms and fan gear shop. 2. Workouts are held on four practice fields behind the main stadium in an area that’s free of charge but closes to fans at 11:30 a.m. SNY blogger Matthew Cerrone writes that there are risers, shaded benches, bathrooms and concessions in an area in the middle of the four fields. 3. Cerrone recommends catching star players for autographs on the main practice field after the workout when they leave through the center field door.

NEW YORK YANKEES Site: George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, Fla. mlb.com/yankees/spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. This marks the 25th anniversary of Legends Stadium, which was renamed for the venerable Yankees owner in 2008. 2. Parking is $10 in a lot across the street from Steinbrenner Field and adjacent to Raymond James Stadium. To get to

stadium, you’ll walk across the Dale Mabry Crosswalk. 3. All eyes will be on ace Gerrit Cole, who signed a nine-year $324 million contract with the Yankees this winter after going 20-5 last year in Houston and leading the majors with 326 strikeouts.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES Site: Spectrum Field, Clearwater, Fla. mlb.com/phillies/spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Check out fan-favorite hotspot Frenchy’s Tiki Pavilion located beyond the left field wall for fans 21 and over. Seats around the bar are first-come, first-serve. 2. Spectrum Field now offers free sunscreen, thanks to sponsor BayCare at Morton Plant Hospital. There are touch-free dispensers of SPF 30 sunscreen throughout the stadium and in restrooms. 3. Traffic is heavy getting in and out of Spectrum Field in the Clearwater area, especially postgame, so be prepared. Parking for games is $10, cash only.


Site: Lecom Park, Bradenton, Fla. www.mlb.com/pirates/spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. This 97-year-old ballpark, the oldest spring training site in the majors, has both traditional elements and modern amenities like the boardwalk which was built in the outfield as part of a $10 million renovation in 2013. 2. Parking in the Home Plate Lot costs $20, the outfield lots costs $10, and on 6th Street is $8. Gates open two hours before first pitch for regular ticket holders and 2 ½ hours before for spring training season ticket holders. Unlike most spring training complexes, the practice fields at Pirate City are located five miles away. 3. The wrought iron fence on the concourse in the right field corner next to the Pirates clubhouse is a good spot to get autographs before and during the game (once players have been removed from action.)


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Site: Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, Jupiter, Fla. mlb.com/cardinals/spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Make it two-for-one in Jupiter where the Cardinals and Miami Marlins share a complex and alternate playing home games every other day. 2. Tailgating is allowed in the grass parking lots only. Open-flame cooking is prohibited. Pop-up tents are allowed as long as they are not staked into the ground and do not take up additional parking spaces. 3. Fans can enter the stadium 1½ hours before first pitch to watch batting practice. Tickets for the grass berm down the right field line (a cheaper alternative to grandstand) can be purchased on the day of game only. Lawn chairs are not permitted, but fans may bring blankets to sit on.  


Site: Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, Fla. mlb.com/rays/spring-training/guide

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Tailgating is allowed on game days as long as it is confined to single parking spaces. Any grilling/open flame cooking will be up to the discretion of the Charlotte County Fire/EMS. 2. Charlotte Sports Park has a 19,000 square foot Baseball Boardwalk around the outfield which fans can stroll for up-close looks at the field, the bullpens, group seating areas and the Tiki Bar. The boardwalk and berm are general admission seating areas too,

and chairs are permitted. Boardwalk Grill concessions are cash only. 3. The Rays give free scorecards to all fans at Charlotte Sports Park.


Site: TD Ballpark, Dunedin Fla. mlb.com/bluejays/spring-training/ballpark

3 Helpful Hints: 1. The Blue Jays unveiled a $102 million renovation to TD Ballpark this spring, which included adding 3,000 seats to increase capacity to 8,500, renovated bathrooms, concessions and suites and a new boardwalk around the outfield. 2. The Blue Jays are the only major league team to have played in the same spring training

location its entire existence, since MLB expanded to include Toronto in 1977. Dunedin supplies an old-school spring training feel with a great tradition of hospitality. 3. Come see the so-called “Blue Genes,” sons of major league stars Vladimir Guerrero Sr. (Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) Craig Biggio (Cavan Biggio) and Dante Bichette (Bo Bichette) who were all called up to the Blue Jays major league roster last summer.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS Site: FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, Fla. mlb.com/nationals/spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. The defending World Series champion Nationals are in their fourth spring sharing a complex with the Houston Astros, so you can get two-for-one on your visit. It’s located just 1.5 miles off I-95. 2. MASN blogger Mark Zuckerman points out that manager Davey Martinez likes to hold pre-game batting practice on the practice fields, so he recommends not entering the stadium more than an hour before first pitch. You’ll see much more outside. Prime autograph seeking territory is between the fields and the clubhouse after workouts. 3. Tailgating is not allowed in parking lots operated by FITTEAM Ballpark.

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ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS Site: Salt River Fields, Scottsdale, Ariz. mlb.com/dbacks/spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Make it two-for-one at this ballpark shared by the Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, who alternate home games during spring training. Just be prepared for heavy traffic around game time. Parking is only $5 (and $15 for RVs and buses) but tailgating is not permitted in any Salt River Fields-operated parking lot and consuming alcohol in parking lots is forbidden. 2. Salt River Fields has 4,000 lawn seats available for as low as $15 for midweek games. Bring a blanket to claim your spot early because lawn seats are popular.

3. Fans can seek player autographs along the railing between sections 101-104 and 120-123 up to 40 minutes before first pitch or until the end of batting practice, whichever comes first. The Diamondbacks will hold autograph sessions with two players on the left field concourse at each home game, from 11:45 AM-noon on day games and 5:45-6:00 p.m. on night games.


Site: Sloan Park, Mesa, Ariz. mlb.com/cubs/sloan-park/guide

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Tailgating is allowed in all parking lots either in front of or behind a single vehicle. Lots open four hours before the game.

Parking is $10 (reserved) or $5 (general) for cars, $14 for buses and RVs. Credit cards can now be used for parking. 2. Sloan Park features a dedicated food truck lot along the fence in right center field, with picnic tables arranged in a shady area. 3. Time permitting, players and coaches may sign autographs for up until 30 minutes before the game. After the game, fans can seek autographs in the designated player walkway from the ballpark to the home clubhouse, located outside the Home Plate Gate.


Site: Camelback Ranch, Glendale, Ariz. mlb.com/whitesox/spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Make it two-for-one by visiting this picturesque ballpark and complex shared by the White Sox and Dodgers, who alternate home games every other day. 2. Tailgating is permitted in front of or behind your vehicle in a single parking space, but propane and charcoal grilling are not allowed. 3. Parking is free and easily accessible off of Camelback Road. Gates to the practice fields open at 9 a.m.


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Site: Goodyear Ballpark, Goodyear, Ariz. mlb.com/reds/spring-training/a-to-zguide

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Make it two-for-one by visiting the ballpark shared by the Reds and Cleveland Indians. They alternate home games every other day. 2. Tailgating is permitted in ballpark parking lots in a guest’s individual parking space, in front or behind the vehicle. Only gas grills allowed. Parking is $5 for cars. 3. R.V. parking is available for $10 in overflow parking on Wood Boulevard across from the Cleveland Indians Development Complex. Overnight parking is prohibited.


Site: Goodyear Ballpark, Goodyear, Ariz. mlb.com/indians/spring-training/a-to-zguide

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Make it two-for-one by visiting the ballpark shared by the Indians and Cincinnati Reds. They alternate home games every other day. 2. Tailgating is permitted in ballpark parking lots in a guest’s individual parking space, in front or behind the vehicle. Only gas grills allowed. 3. R.V. parking is available in overflow parking on Wood Boulevard across from the Indians Development Complex. Overnight parking is prohibited.


Site: Salt River Fields, Scottsdale, Ariz. mlb.com/rockies/spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Make it two-for-one at this ballpark shared by the Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks, who alternate home games there during spring training. Just be prepared for heavy traffic around game time. Parking is only $5 (and $15 for RVs and buses) but tailgating is not permitted in any Salt River Fields-operated parking lot and consuming alcohol in parking lots is forbidden. 2. Salt River Fields has 4,000 lawn seats available as low as $15 for midweek games. Bring a blanket to claim your spot early because lawn seats are popular. 3. Fans can seek player autographs along the railing between sections 101-104 and

120-123 up to 40 minutes before first pitch or until the end of batting practice, whichever comes first. The Rockies will hold two-player autograph sessions at each home game in the right field concourse from 11:45 a.m.-noon on day games and 5:45-6:00 p.m. on night games.


Site: Surprise Stadium, Surprise, Ariz. mlb.com/royals/spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Make it two-for-one by visiting the ballpark shared by the Royals and the Texas Rangers, who alternate home games every other day. 2. Autograph-seeking is tricky pre-game since the Royals take batting practice on their practice fields instead of inside the stadium (and the visiting team usually takes bp at home before traveling.) A handful of players usually sign near their dugouts closer to game time. 3. The Mike Matheny era begins as the former Cardinals catcher and manager takes over for retired manager Ned Yost.


Site: Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe, Ariz. mlb.com/angels/spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Parking lots open two hours before home games and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on non-game days. Vehicles longer than 20 feet will be charged extra. Only approved gas/propane grills with fuel-valve turn offs will be allowed. No charcoal.

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FANS&THRILLS 2. Tailgating is allowed only in the general parking areas. Alcohol consumption in the parking lot is illegal. 3. Fans can seek player autographs along the railing between the dugout and the foul pole on both sides of the field up until 45 minutes before first pitch.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS Site: Camelback Ranch, Glendale, Ariz. mlb.com/dodgers/spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. Make it two-for-one by visiting this picturesque ballpark and complex shared by the Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, who alternate home games every other day. What it lacks in tradition compared to the old Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., this complex makes up for with stateof-the-art facilities, a walking trail and five-acre lake. 2. Tailgating is permitted in front of or behind a vehicle in a single parking space, but propane and charcoal grilling are not allowed. 3. Parking is free and easily accessible off of Camelback Road. Gates to the practice fields open at 9 a.m.  


Site: American Family Fields of Phoenix, Phoenix, Ariz. mlb.com/brewers/spring-training

3 Helpful Hints: 1. American Family Fields of Phoenix is in its second spring since undergoing a $60 million renovation that brought the


22-year-old facility in line with the rest of the Cactus League, included updating parking lots. 2. The ballpark features a more welcoming entrance, upgraded concessions (including the taste of Milwaukee: Johnsonville Brats) additional theater-style seats, an expanded team store and the usual good access to players near practice fields beyond the right field fence. 3. Parking is $10 for cars and $20 for oversized vehicles, cash only, on days of the event. Additional spaces cannot be purchased for tailgating.

3 Helpful Hints:


Site: Peoria Stadium, Peoria, Ariz. mlb.com/padres/tickets/spring-training

Site: Hohokam Stadium, Mesa, Ariz. mlb.com/athletics/spring-training

1. Tailgating is allowed in front of or behind vehicles in a single space in stadium lots. Charcoal grills are not allowed. Parking is $5 per vehicle, $10 for oversized and RV parking. 2. Fans can purchase a spring training pass for all 16 A’s home games for $59.99. One person can buy up to four passes. 3. Elevated lawn chairs are not prohibited, only soft-sided chairs with seat bottoms that rest directly on the ground. 

SAN DIEGO PADRES 3 Helpful Hints:

1. Make it two-for-one by visiting this 145-acre complex shared by the Padres and Mariners, which opened in 1994 as the first two-team spring training facility. The two teams alternate home games every other day. 2. Tailgating is allowed in the space in front of or behind single vehicles. Parking is $5 for cars and $15 for RVs. Overnight parking is prohibited. 3. Check out the “Cove,” a kids interactive playground on the third base concourse featuring a splash pad, shaded concessions area and a mini baseball field.

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3 Helpful Hints:

3 Helpful Hints:

3 Helpful Hints:

1. As convenient as this ballpark is in downtown Scottsdale, parking is limited. There is public parking at the Scottsdale Library and Civic Center, behind left field on Drinkwater Boulevard and other locations. The best bet might be Scottsdale’s free trolley service. 2. Only blankets (no lawn chairs) are allowed on the grassy berm but early arrival is a must to secure a spot. 3. There is a designated area for autograph seekers ages 14 and under in front of the players’ entrance along the first base side of the stadium. Autographs may also be requested inside the stadium near both dugouts before and after the game.

1. Make it two-for-one by visiting this 145-acre complex shared by the Mariners and Padres, which opened in 1994 as the first two-team spring training facility. The two teams alternate home games every other day. 2. Tailgating is allowed in the space in front of or behind single vehicles. Parking is $5 for cars and $15 for RVs. Overnight parking is prohibited. 3. Good autograph-seeking spots are near the right-field gate, where players go from the field to locker rooms and by the back fields where players work out.

1. Make it two-for-one by visiting the ballpark shared by the Rangers and the Kansas City Royals, who alternate home games every other day. 2. Autograph-seeking is tough pre-game because the Rangers take batting practice on their practice fields instead of the stadium (and the visiting team usually takes bp at home before traveling.) A handful of players usually sign near their dugouts closer to game time though. 3. The talk of camp will center around the acquisition of pitcher Corey Kluber, as well as the upcoming opening of the Rangers’ new state-of-the-art stadium in Arlington—Globe Life Stadium. The homeopener there is March 31 vs. the Angels.

Site: Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, Ariz. mlb.com/giants/spring-training

Site: Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria, Ariz. mlb.com/mariners/spring-training

Site: Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Ariz. mlb.com/rangers/spring-training

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Profile for Inside Tailgating Magazine

Inside Tailgating Magazine: Spring 2020  


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