Commentary: No tailgating at national championship game? Blame the CFP, not SoFi or California

Georgia fans, excited to bring their passionate college football culture to Los Angeles for Monday’s College Football Playoff national championship game against Texas Christian, were hit with some bad news this week upon learning that no tailgating would be allowed in the SoFi Stadium parking lots pregame.

The social media backlash was predictable, with California’s wacky West Coast ways bearing the brunt of the angst, to the point that Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp couldn’t resist taking a shot Thursday morning from his Twitter account.

“While California may not know this,” Kemp tweeted, “in the South a tailgate with friends & family is the only way to prepare for a big game. When Georgia hosts the 2025 #NationalChampionship, we’ll make sure fans are able to tailgate! Even if it’s at the state Capitol!”

One popular Georgia fan Twitter account proposed federal legislation to make tailgating a protected right for American citizens, to which U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) responded by tweeting, “I am happy to cosponsor this important legislation.”

But, as it often turns out, the angry mob and politicians have misdirected their ire without gathering all the facts. Neither California, nor Los Angeles, nor Inglewood, nor SoFi Stadium is to blame for this unconscionable affront to Southern football culture.

It’s the Irving, Texas-based College Football Playoff’s decision to ban tailgating at its premier event — the same stance it took at last year’s game in Indianapolis, the year before that in Miami and the prior year in New Orleans.

“Fans are welcome to bring their coolers and enjoy themselves in their parking spaces at SoFi Stadium on Monday night for the College Football Playoff National Championship,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement released to The Times. “In addition, we are hosting the Allstate Championship Tailgate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the SoFi Stadium parking lot. This is a free event that is open to all ticket holders. Bands from both schools will perform, as well as Kelsea Ballerini and Tiera Kennedy.

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“We encourage everyone to come out early to enjoy all the activities, but for us to operate the parking operations efficiently on game day, 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 and want to ensure everyone has a safe and timely arrival for the game.”

Georgia fans traveled to Indianapolis for last year’s CFP title game against Alabama, but they probably did not notice the no tailgating rule because temperatures were in the single digits. Who could fault them for assuming the weather in Southern California would be ripe for pregame revelry?

Monday’s weather forecast projects a 60% chance of rain, so it appears those tailgating tents may indeed be greatly missed.

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