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Tailgating. a right of passage for any sports fan in America.

On any given Sunday in the Fall, parking lots in NFL cities swell with thousands of grill masters cooking up a wide variety of specialty foods on their Coleman NXT Grills. From porter house steaks, meticulously marinated in a secret passed down recipe to full pig roasts (we’re looking at you Oakland) the food choices are endless. Having the proper tools could be the difference between a Gatorade shower and a tailgate shunning.

If all that talk of tailgating, football and pig roasts isn’t getting you antsy enough for the season to kick-off, we’re about to put it over the edge. For the past month we have been counting down the top 10 cities for tailgate grilling in the NFL and today we finally reveal number one.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers

There is no denying that the Steelers have one of the most dedicated fan bases in the world. Just look at their highly successful “Terrible Towel” marketing campaign that has been duplicated hundreds of times over by sporting teams and corporations. At a tailgate you’ll meet plenty of fans who are willing to share their food and keep an eye out for over the top Steeler tailgate vehicles, they do at as well or better than any team in the league. A few pro-tips to keep in mind: 1) You can get parking passes for cheap on eBay. 2) All the good chefs hang out in Blue Lots 7F & 7H so if you have a meal you want to serve up, head there and if you want to try the fare, make sure you bring some cash and pay it forward.

Stadium Name: Heinz Field
Stadium Capacity: 65,050
Hours before kick-off the parking lot opens: 5
Parking Cost: $10-$50 (official guide here)
Signature Food: Steak
Average High Temperature in August: 80°F
Average Temperature in January: 37°F

9. Denver Broncos

Denver is the craft beer capital of America and at a Broncos tailgate, you’ll meet what many consider to be the nicest fanbase in all of the NFL. It must be all that mile high air, or the lack of it we should say. Now that the Broncos have a Super Bowl contending team, the tailgate scene is certainly something you need to experience. Last year they set their franchise’s all-time season ticket record and this year will probably exceed that. Denver is a unique experience, because unlike many stadiums in the NFL parking is extremely limited. The team recently cut RV parking in half to only 25 spots, which makes the true loyalists that much more grateful to have the rare spot. Because space is so coveted, fans take it to the next level, when afforded the opportunity to grill at the stadium. Walk through the lots and you get an eclectic blend of traditional tailgate food and crazy concoctions. If someone tries to convince you to eat the Rocky Mountain Oysters, PASS!

Stadium Name: Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Stadium Capacity: 76,125
Hours before kick-off the parking lot opens: 5
Parking Cost: $30
Signature Food: Rocky Mountain Oysters
Average High Temperature in August: 84°F
Average Temperature in January: 40°F

8. Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns take a ridiculous amount of pride in their tailgate vehicles. From “The Kennel,” a traditional orange and brown school bus, to the legendary Tailgate Dawg, a bus with a dog head on the front, you’ll see it all in the Muni Lot. Since tailgating is a religion for Browns fan you can also expect amazing food too. You probably won’t see anything too far outside the box, but why mess with a good thing when you’ve perfected the art of grilling the perfect burger? Classic American tailgating at it’s finest. Browns fans know what to expect from their team and from their tailgate, which is why they take so much pride in their tailgating… Welcome to Cleveland.

Stadium Name: FirstEnergy Stadium
Stadium Capacity: 73,200
All Time Home Record: 41-71
Hours before kick-off the parking lot opens: 6 AM
Parking Cost: $20-25
Signature Food: Hamburgers
Average High Temperature in August: 79°F
Average Temperature in January: 42°F

7. New England Patriots

The stark difference between the Cleveland Browns (#8) and the Patriots coming in at #7 is simply wins. The New England Patriots are highly successful and the Browns… not so much. Both tailgates parallel their team’s team style, where the Browns tailgates are a bit of a free for all, the Patriots have a highly regimented system with rules up the wazoo. This probably stems from the fact that the Patriots have played more NFL games that any other team in the league in the last decade. Once you’re in the lot be ready to meet some of the most diehard, experienced tailgaters in the league. If you’re planning on going to a game try to perfect the beer brat, you’ll see lobsters, ‘chowdahs’ and plenty of seafood, but the beer brats are far and away the signature food. Also, if you want to be a grilling pro in New England, make sure you bring double the meat because they allow post game tailgating for two hours after the final snap.

Stadium Name: Gillette Stadium
Stadium Capacity: 68,756
Hours before kick-off the parking lot opens: 4
Parking Cost: $40
Signature Food: Beer brats
Average High Temperature in August: 79°F
Average Temperature in January: 38°F

6. Philadelphia Eagles

Ask any sports fan which city has the most (we’ll call them) “hardcore” fans and everyone will probably settle on Philadelphia. But don’t let a few bad apples ruin the bunch, because no matter what you’ve heard in the past, their fans are as nice as they are passionate. The City of Brotherly Love is known for their signature cheese steaks, but if you’re looking to grill something up in the lot, head to Pagano’s Market before the game and pick up some fresh Italian sausage. As they say, “the way to any football fans heart is through their stomach” and if you’re cooking up dozens of spicy sausages on your NXT Grill, you’ll be the most popular set-up in the lot.

Stadium Name: Lincoln Financial Field
Stadium Capacity: 68,532
Hours before kick-off the parking lot opens: 5
Parking Cost: $25
Signature Food: Italian sausage
Average High Temperature in August: 84°F
Average Temperature in January: 43°F

5. Baltimore Ravens

Crabcakes and football! That’s what Maryland does!” and how true it is. Drive an RV down to M&T Bank Stadium and you’ll verify that Lot H might be some of the most hardcore tailgaters in the league. Now that they are the reigning Super Bowl champs it’s a given that their fans will come out in mass to cook up crab cakes and play drinking games. Pro tip: don’t get left out of the lots, they only sell advance parking permits so make sure you purchase before the game.

Stadium Name: M&T Bank Stadium
Stadium Capacity: 71,008
Hours before kick-off the parking lot opens: 5
Parking Cost: $12
Signature Food: Crab Cakes
Average High Temperature in August: 85°F
Average Temperature in January: 48°F

4. Kansas City Chiefs

This is a no brainer. Arrowhead is one of the largest and loudest stadiums in the NFL and has a rare distinction of offering overnight parking ($90 if you buy in advance). They share a park lot with the Royals, so it’s probably the largest in the league with a whopping the 26,000 spaces in total! The parking lot situation is really hard to fathom. Imagine a sea of vehicles stretching out to the flat KC horizon upon a sky of smoke and heat rising from the entire parking lot. BBQ is a way of life in Kansas City so be ready for more styles than you’ll be able to eat. Bring your appetite because everyone is absurdly friendly and willing to share their own unique recipe. Pro tip: Bleach your hair, wear a bowling shirt and put your sunglasses on backwards. BBQ grillers will mistake you for celebrity chef, Guy Fieri, and will fight to the death for an opportunity to get “Guy” to try their special sauce.

Stadium Name: Arrowhead Stadium
Stadium Capacity: 79,451
Hours before kick-off the parking lot opens: 3.5
Parking Cost: $27
Signature Food: BBQ
Average High Temperature in August: 89°F
Average Temperature in January: 42°F

3. Buffalo Bills

Winters can be intense up in Buffalo, but Bills fans are hardcore tailgaters and don’t let a little chill freeze the good times. Once referring to the Bills tailgating supremacy, Chris Berman said, “no one circles the wagons like Bills fans” and the prime example of hardcore Bills tailgating is Ken “Pinto Ron” Johnson, one of the most illustrious and well-respected tailgaters in the entire NFL.

Since 1994, Johnson has setup a world-renown tailgate of using non-traditional utensils to cook with. That includes a “red 1980 Pinto, which he grills meat on the hood, to the pizza oven made out of a filing cabinet to a chicken wing-cooking mailbox and, yes, even the long-established ceremony of drinking shots of Polish cherry liqueur out of the thumbhole of a bowling ball.” If you thought that was enough think again, Johnson has also attended every home and away Bills game for almost 20 years! That is the Bills spirit.

Being that the Bills are a “small market” team playing in Orchard Park, NY  you can avoid paying full price for parking and begin even earlier than 4 hours before kick-off by finding space in a Buffalonians’ front yard. A truly unique experience that you can’t find at very many stadiums in the league.

Buffalo wings are as American as apple pie and being that the buffalo wings origin is linked to Buffalo, NY it is only right that a tailgating all-star would cook up some wings on the grill.

Stadium Name: Ralph Wilson Stadium
Stadium Capacity: 73,967
Hours before kick-off the parking lot opens: 4
Parking Cost: $20
Signature Food: Buffalo wings
Average High Temperature in August: 71°F
Average Temperature in January: 25°F

2. Houston Texans

We’ve done a ton of research and every tailgate expert agrees that the Houston Texans have far and away the best BBQ in the NFL.  From brisket to chicken to ribs to sausage, fans at Reliant Stadium cook up everything you could imagine under the hot Texas sun.

In a place where tailgating is basically a religion Glen Miller of the Raging Bull Tailgaters club does it better than anyone else. Glen says he spends $12,000-15,000 each season throwing an epic tailgate that spans 36 parking spots for hundreds of members. Their motto, “Family, Friends, Football, Food & Fun,” and dedication to the tailgate club helped them recently land the title of “Tailgaters of The Decade.”

Stadium Name: Reliant Stadium
Stadium Capacity: 71,054
Hours before kick-off the parking lot opens: 5
Signature Food: Various types of BBQ
Average High Temperature in August: 93°F
Average Temperature in January: 65°F

1. Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers take tailgating seriously. Maybe too seriously, but when you’re the smallest market sports team in America and actually own a small percentage of your team, you take a little bit more pride in your team. What better way to show that pride then before the game. The scene is iconic. A sea of green and yellow cooking up brats. Brats as far as the eye can see. A collection of brats so diverse in flavor, the United Nations would nod in approval. Then there’s the cheese. Good old Wisconsin cheese. Pair that up with some of the finest, freshest beer in existence, brewed locally, and you have yourself one of the best tailgating experiences in America.

The fact that Green Bay, essentially shuts down on game day, gives the community a sense of camaraderie that’s not only welcoming, but encouraging and it shows from the team’s fans all the way up to the front office. No ticket, no problem. The team has a section next to the stadium called the ‘Tundra Tailgate Zone’ that plays live music and the game with plenty of booze and food. The Tundra is open to the public all day until one hour after the game ends.

Stadium Name: Lambeau Field
Stadium Capacity: 72,928
Hours before kick-off the parking lot opens: 4
Signature Food: Brats and cheese
Average High Temperature in August: 77°F
Average Temperature in January: 25°F

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