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The Rise of Sterngating

Did you know that the best tailgating events don't even take place on land? You do now.
  • aerial of city downtown with docks for boats

Forget baseball, tailgating may be the new great American pastime. There are few things more enjoyable than gathering up your crew, setting up shop in your favorite team’s parking lot, and then cracking open the cooler and firing up the grill. It’s a simple pleasure that’s not only fun— it is often the genesis of tradition, something to be passed down from generation to generation. But here’s the thing: did you know that a parking lot is not the only place you can tailgate? It’s called sterngating, and it will change the way you look at gameday. Here are some of the best places in America to do it.

AT&T Park | San Francisco Giants, MLB | McCovey Cove

Perhaps one of the most iconic places to take your boat to the game is McCovey Cove. The cove is a small patch of San Francisco Bay just off the stadium’s right field wall. Named after former Giants first baseman and crowd favorite Willie McCovey, the Cove is famous for “Splash Hits”—home run blasts that travel so far they land in the water. The home runs often cause pandemonium as boaters dive into the frigid waters of the Bay to get a souvenir baseball. To date, only 68 Splash Hits have been recorded, 35 of which came off the bat of, you guessed it, juiced-up, home-run king Barry Bonds.


Citi Field | New York Mets, MLB | World's Fair Marina

The Big Apple offers its own version of sterngating at the World’s Fair Marina near Citi Field. The marina is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the home of the Amazin’ Mets. It’s also an excellent spot to dock before the U.S. Open, as Arthur Ashe Stadium is also nearby. Just remember to book your slip well in advance, since, like everything else in New York, the marina gets pretty busy.


Nationals Park | Washington Nationals, MLB | Gangplank Marina

The Potomac River may get a bit of a bad rap, but it’s actually quite beautiful in many sections, particularly along parts of the D.C waterfront. One of the best places for boating here is just off of Nationals Park, where you can enjoy one of the 300 protected slips at Gangplank Marina, which is a short water-taxi ride to the stadium.


Everbank Field | Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL | Metropolitan Park Marina

The St. Johns River is a place rife with mystery, but one thing you can be sure of is having a good time if you dock at the Metropolitan Park Marina for a Jaguars game. With warm weather and boisterous fans the place is perfect for a sterngating session. Even better, you can also dock here for the annual Florida-Georgia SEC matchup, AKA, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.


Heinz Field | Pittsburg Steelers, NFL | Lock Wall One Marina

Steelers fans are some of the most rabid in the NFL, so it’s really no surprise that some of the prime spots along the wharf near the stadium fill up days in advance of games. If you do secure a spot though, you’ll be privy to some of the hardiest partying fans anywhere, and you might just get to eat one of the city’s famous Primanti Brothers sandwiches. Good luck with that though. Just one of those things could feed a village.


Soldier Field | Chicago Bears, NFL | Burnham Harbor

Chicago is home to one of the more picturesque settings in all of sterngating. Dock your boat in Burnham Harbor on Lake Michigan and you’ll be able to take in The Windy City’s incredible skyline while gearing up to watch the Monsters of the Midway. Of course, ChiTown is known to get cold. Very cold. So sterngating is essentially limited to the first half of the season. And even then, you’ll probably want to wear something warm.


Husky Stadium | Washington Huskies, NCAA Football | Lake Washington, Seattle

For some distinct Pacific Northwest flavor, hop on a boat in Seattle’s Lake Washington and sail on over to Husky Stadium, where the University of Washington football team takes on all the mighty Pac-10 has to offer. Boats moor in the lake in the shadow of the Cascade mountain range and a shuttle service runs revelers back and forth from boat to land for a mere six dollars. Single-game and season long moorings are available. So, figure out how much football you want to watch and then hop aboard!


Neyland Stadium | Tennessee Volunteers, NCAA Football | Volunteer Landing, Knoxville, TN

If you’re looking for passion and dedication, there’s simply no comparing the fans of SEC football. Knoxville, the hometown of Sea Ray, is one of the best party towns in the entire conference. Get on a boat and chug up the Tennessee River to Neyland Stadium. Enjoy some good ol’ fashioned Southern home cooking and maybe some suds before joining the Vol Navy, as the fans by boat are known, in a rousing rendition of “Rocky Top.” It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.


McLane Stadium | Baylor University Bears, NCAA Football | Baylor Basin, Waco Texas

Baylor football has been experiencing a resurgence and is quickly becoming one of the most exciting teams in all of college football. And what better way to prepare for the on-field fireworks than by pre-gaming on a boat?


For more information on these and other local hot spots, contact your local MarineMax