Boatgating? More fans turn to water for pre-game festivities

It's like tailgating, but on a boat

ORLANDO, Fla. – For years, tailgating has meant getting to the parking lot early to get a good spot. But for some, pregame traditions are changing by taking the fun from the parking lot to the water. 

The University of Central Florida has already unveiled plans for a lazy river around Spectrum Stadium.

And for others, the entire pregame experience is moving away from the stadium. 

"Boatgating" also known as sailgating or sterngating, are buzzwords for the art of tailgating on a boat. 

As Ryan McVinney with BoatTrader.com puts it, the food and the drinks are still there, but games like corn hole and beer pong are replaced with water sports.

"You can water-ski, wake board, go swimming, get some sun," he said. "If your team is losing you can drown your sorrows in the sun." 

Stephanie Ecimovic with MarineMax, a boat dealership and marine service center based in Orlando, took us out on a lake not far from Camping World Stadium in a pontoon boat built for boatgating.  

"You didn't see pontoon boats built like this 10 years ago," she said. "You can listen and pregame on the boat and not having to deal with the lines, crowds and cars and stuff like that." 

And this shift is happening all over Florida. Look no further than Jacksonville, where Jaguars fans line up before games on the St. Johns River. It's a trend that will only likely continue to grow whether one has a ticket to the game or not. 

"You don't necessarily need to go to the stadium if you've got a big flat-screen TV on the boat and you're enjoying it out there," McVinney said. "You can spend the whole time and watch the game that way and sometimes it's even better." 

Over the past five years, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has seen vessel registrations rise, as Florida continues to lead the nation.


"It's got all the bells and whistles and I think boat manufacturers are designing boats more for these kinds of days out on the water," McVinney said. 

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