Georgia’s governor blasts tailgating policy at football title game

Credit: Jason Getz / AJC

Credit: Jason Getz / AJC

A ban on tailgating outside SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles for the college football national championship has drawn the wrath of the state’s most powerful Georgia Bulldog fan: Gov. Brian Kemp.

“While California may not know this, in the South a tailgate with friends & family is the only way to prepare for a big game,” the Republican tweeted of the restriction ahead of Monday’s title game between Georgia and TCU.

“When Georgia hosts the 2025 #NationalChampionship,” Kemp added, “we’ll make sure fans are able to tailgate! Even if it’s at the state Capitol!!”

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Kemp joined a chorus of critics slamming the bizarre stance on the College Football Playoff’s official website: “Tailgating will not be allowed in any SoFi Stadium parking lot.”

“If they tried to pull this at the NFL stadium in Atlanta, SEC fans would unite to burn the city to the ground while shouting about how maybe Sherman did the right thing,” said Eric Teusink, a Decatur attorney and longtime Georgia football supporter.

One of the most notable critics of the policy is the @3YearLetterman account, a parody Twitter feed of a youth football coach and Bulldog fanatic who called on Congress to pass a “Gerald R. Ford Right to Tailgate Act of 2023.” (It later earned the lighthearted endorsements of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.)

His response to Kemp’s tweet: “Finally, an elected official addressing the issues that we actually care about.”

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Kemp, an Athens native and diehard Bulldog fan, also has political reasons to take aim at the tailgating ban. He’s long railed against “Hollywood elitists” backing his Democratic rivals, and mocking the policy only plays into his narrative.

Rooting for Georgia, of course, is a bipartisan affair. Kemp and other state leaders have rearranged the schedule for the opening of the legislative session to accommodate lawmakers and state officials who are traveling to Monday’s game.

Bill Hancock, the executive director of the college football playoff, tried to tamp down the backlash in a statement. He said fans can bring coolers and “enjoy themselves” in their parking spaces but cannot set up grills or tents.

“For us to operate the parking operations efficiently on gameday, we are not able to allow fans to set up tents and grills in the drive aisles or adjacent parking spaces because we have limited on-site parking at SoFi Stadium,” Hancock said.