Although everyone may have their own rituals for this weekend’s big Pitt vs. Penn State game — whether it’s wearing their favorite pair of lucky underwear or clipping only three of their toenails — there’s no doubt that the go-to way to enjoy the game is tailgating. American culture has unintentionally crafted chilling in a parking lot before an athletic event into an art, with specific tastes in location, food and entertainment — here’s how you can prepare your perfect tailgating experience at Heinz Field on Saturday.
Pitt recently announced a no-tailgating policy in the parking lots around the North Shore for gameday. With a Pirates’ game set for 1:05 p.m. and the rivalry game at 8 p.m., social gatherings aren’t permitted between 1:30 and 5 p.m. in order to control traffic. But for fans looking to crack open some cold ones and start the mandatory KanJam tournament early in the afternoon, there are still places where tailgating isn’t restricted.
The Jim Shorkey North and South Lots at PPG Paints Arena will open spaces for fans to tailgate starting at 1 p.m. Although fans parking in those lots will have to walk down the hill and take the T to the North Shore, it will be worth it for those wanting to get psyched for the game early on. And if that doesn’t seem like an appealing option, there are multiple parking lots around the City still within walking distance.
For Pitt students who don’t have to worry about parking, but are still looking for a friendly tailgate, the Pitt Program Council is hosting a tailgate the night before the game from 10 p.m. to midnight on the William Pitt Union patio and lawn space. Open to all students with a valid Pitt ID, the event will include t-shirt decorating, a cornhole tournament and free food.
It doesn’t matter what day it is — food is always important. But there is a stark difference between good, hearty tailgate food and what’s on your aunt’s Weight Watchers diet plan.
Any food that is easy to eat and covers your face with sauce is a tailgate food. This includes ribs, chicken wings and dips — all of which can be made in several different flavors. Pittsburghers can make i am baker’s Primanti Bros-inspired sandwich dip with fries or get creative with some wing recipes tested by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Grilling may be a skill that only those infused with the spirit of Gordon Ramsay can truly master, but when done right everyone at the tailgate will be pleased. Burgers, grilled chicken and hotdogs encapsulate the true spirit of the tailgate. Including several condiment options along with grilled onions, mushrooms and peppers makes guests happy — just be sure to pack enough napkins.
For those fans who live for a delicious, slow-cooked Crock-Pot meal, chili and pulled pork sandwiches can be made beforehand — guaranteeing a relaxing tailgating experience that doesn’t involve standing in front of a grill. The Food Network’s website provides visitors with a gallery of recipes they can cook in a Crock-Pot. Though some are elaborate, most of them are classics that pair well with tailgate festivities.
The North Shore is also filled with restaurants and bars, a perfect option for those without a portable grill or any cooking skills. McFadden’s, Southern Tier and Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36 have normal business hours during this game weekend — allowing fans to eat and relax before and after the game.
Possibly the most important way to get pumped for an intense rivalry game is to listen to bumpin’ music — one could say the speakers are even more important to remember than the grill. Gritty, inspirational classic rock and fast-paced modern club music are essential to get people riled up for when they’ll be screaming in the stands.
Not really sure what to listen to? No worries, The Pitt News has got you covered with a playlist of all the gameday tailgate essentials. Listen to The Pitt News’ Pitt-Penn State gameday tunes on Spotify for groovy tunes from popular artists like Luke Bryan and Gwen Stefani. And of course, Neil Diamond’s classic “Sweet Caroline” is one of the first on the list.