By Lauren Laughlin
As a football fanatic, I have always loved going to Jaguar games with my dad. Over the years we have perfected our game-day rituals and secrets for success. The preparation begins with the purchase of tickets. When finding the perfect seat, take note on which side of the stadium the seats are. While night games may not be as hot, the afternoon games can reach temperatures in the high nineties. To avoid the direct sun, I prefer to sit on the west side of the stadium. As the sun progresses, the west side is shady first. While some prefer to pay for a parking pass, I enjoyed parking in the grass lot across from the Maxwell House Coffee plant. It was perfect for tailgating and less expensive ($20) than the parking passes ($35) by the stadium. Less expensive options usually can be found further away if that is preferable.
When preparing for game day, keep in mind only clear bags or bags smaller than 4.5×6.5 will be allowed into the stadium. In my clear bag, I pack sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and a rain poncho just in case. You can also view the bag policy and prohibited items list on jaguars.com.
Tailgating is one of my favorite parts of the game-day experience. I grew up eating lemonade and chicken wings on Sundays. For a 1:00 pm game, my dad and I would try to be parked by 11:00 am giving us around an hour to tailgate. Every tailgate is different, but we loved bringing a cooler with our favorite foods, lawn chairs, and a radio to listen to the pregame show. Some people also bring games such as corn hole and footballs to their tailgate. A tailgate tip we learned this past year is to bring a tent to sit under because the Florida sun loves Jaguar games as much as we do. We tailgate until around noon when we head into the stadium.
The lines to enter the stadium can be long, so we try to be there 45 minutes before the game starts. Another thing to note is you can enter the stadium through any gate, so if one has a long line, you can always enter through the next gate. Once inside, you can shop for Jaguar merchandise in the stores, purchase food, or find your seats. If you are a chicken tender fan like me, the Dick’s Wing’s chicken tenders are a great choice.
As you look for your seat, there is security everywhere to help you. Upon entrance to the stands, there is an electricity and excitement surrounding you. The energy in the Jaguar stadium is unlike any other. I love cheering for the Jags and getting excited with the people around me. Halftime can be pretty busy, so if you are not a fan of crowds, try to avoid leaving the stands during halftime. Usually, I would go down five minutes before halftime.
When leaving the stadium and the parking lot, traffic can be heavy. It is always an option to leave the game a few minutes early to beat the crowd; hopefully, the Jags will be winning by three touchdowns by that point, so there is nothing to worry about by leaving early. With another Jaguar win, we will all be able to sleep well that night.
About the Author: Lauren Laughlin is a senior in high school and will be attending the University of Florida this Fall. This article was a top 5 finalist for the Ponte Vedra Focus Blog Writing Scholarship.