Friday, July 31, 2009

Syracuse Tailgate and Visitors Guide '09

Syracuse Looking Toward Onondaga Lake from Mount Olympus--click to enlarge

This is one of a series of tailgating guides for Big East football schools written by Syracuse fan and tailgate aficionado TexanMark. If you have any feedback or additional information you think belongs in this guide, please drop an email message to Mark by clicking here or make a comment below.

NOTE: I have populated a map found here with most of the places talked about here (be patient it might take 30 seconds to load). This wonderful website has informational maps on most major colleges. Check it out

First Things First: Getting There:

Syracuse is the northernmost school in the Big East (Football schools). It is a relatively short trip from Rutgers and UConn (each about 4 hours). Other schools within a reasonable drive for a weekend game are 6-7 hours away (Pitt and WVU). Cincinnati and Louisville are too far to drive to unless you have 3 days or love spending the weekend in a car.

Flying into Syracuse is fairly easy. It is a decent sized airport but beware that some of the airfares can be artificially high. The airport has a proposed and much needed renovation coming in the next few years. Jet Blue generally has the lowest airfares and have helped a lot to lower airfares into Syracuse. However, airlines like Delta, American, USAirways, and United often will meet or beat flight rates into Syracuse from Jet Blue Destinations. The airport really needs Southwest and AirTran to offer better fares. If you are flexible flying in/out of nearby airports (both origin and destination) you can save 100's of dollars. Be sure to check nearby airports like Rochester, Albany and Buffalo.

The airport is about 5 miles north of the downtown/university areas, many local motels will pick you up in their courtesy shuttles if you want to avoid renting a car. The great thing about Syracuse is 500,000 people live in the city and suburbs but you are never more than 10-15 minutes from anything. If you are going to rent a car you might want to check into flying in/out of Albany, Buffalo and Rochester (all are within 2 hours of Syracuse) for lower airfares. Southwest serves Albany and Buffalo while Air Tran serves Buffalo and Rochester. NOTE: Airfare differences between various Upstate NY cities can vary by 100's of dollars. Obviously, if you have an extra day or two you might want to check out Niagara Falls, Turning Stone Casino, Cooperstown and the World Famous Baseball Hall of Fame, Thousand Islands or the Finger Lakes wineries (all are within 2 ½ hours of Syracuse). A national travel writer recently named the Finger Lakes and the 1000 Islands in the Top 10 of all Lake Districts in the world! Cruising famous Skaneateles Lake on a boat, Note: World Class Salmon fishing is just 40 minutes north in Pulaski. If you really want a special trip try mixing in fishing and stay up in Pulaski for a few days and check here first for anything you forgot. A few more suggestions. Finally, something for the kids close by. Big Don's Wild River is less than 15 minutes from Downtown in Cicero. Another family entertainment center (Maya Indoor Waterpark) on the NW side near the I-90 exit 39 is being development. There is a hotel, restaurant along with a bmx park, paint ball and skate. The swim park is expected to start construction in late 2009 and open in 2010. I recommend calling first as the website has no new info. The other attractions are currently open.

Turning Stone Casino--Oneida Nation

The train station and bus station are co-located about a mile north of downtown and it is a short walk (under an I-81 overpass) to the huge Carousel Shopping Mall. You can catch a bus or cab from the train station to the university.

Game Day Parking/Tailgating:

Finding the Carrier Dome is fairly easy. It sits just east of downtown and is perched on top of a hill overlooking the city. However, the University provides a nice overview and has a general map you can use.

The Syracuse tailgating scene is one of lots of small tailgates spread throughout the campus. This is due to the Carrier Dome being built in the middle of a cramped campus with little close by parking. If you are a visiting fan you can find tailgating/parking options in the University area but it will be mostly by private vendors.

The Main Campus Click to enlarge
A link with interactive maps of all the Campuses

Suggested areas to look:

Check the fraternities/sororities on Walnut, parking garages (Sheraton Hotel, a few others can be found around Crouse and Irving Avenues a few blocks north/west of the Dome), and private residences. Expect to pay about $5-20 to park. BTW, I found a $5 lot near Adams St north of the Crouse Irving Hospital which sold out about two hours prior to kickoff. If you are lucky enough to have a connection there are several nice lots near the Dome for parking/tailgating but require a permit (based on donation level). All of the lots owned by the university close to the Dome are permit only. PARKING TIP: Syracuse started in 2009 printing individual parking passes for these premium donor lots. Each game has a separate pass you hang from your rear view mirror. It makes it real handy for someone who isn't going to the the game to let you use a pass for a specific game. The school says they are not transferable but it isn't enforced. PARKING TIP: If you decide to try your luck with on street parking in the Stadium West area (west of the Dome, streets between Dome and I-81) you need to arrive at least three hours early. The police set up Orange Barrels on the side of the street with no parking. If you find a space open and you aren't blocking a driveway or too close to an intersection or fire hydrant park there. Bottomline: parking is only allowed on one side of the street. They will ticket and tow. If you have a small tailgate crew you (as a visitor) shouldn't have a problem tailgating in the stadium west lots. Just don't set up in the prime spots as regular Cuse fans might raise a stink. The safest lot to set up is in the Henry Lot. It hosts visiting buses/RVs there so you will blend in. A nice printable map shows the permit parking lots as well as the non permit day game lot at Skytop. To reiterate: best advice is to arrive 3-4 hours before kickoff and scout around for a spot. If you have a noon kickoff show up by 9-9:30am and you should be okay. PARKING TIP: The university does offer two parking garages for gameday parking without a permit. University Ave Garage and Booth Garage are available but are expensive($20) and most important be sure to ask when they are closing--I have heard they close 2 1/2 hours after the end of the game, be smart and ask the attendant. See link above for locations. Additionally there are a few other parking garages in the area. The one just south of the hospital complex along Irving Avenue charges $15. The Sheraton Hotel garage also allows gameday parking for about $15-20.

PARKING TIP: Okay I came upon another lot. It is tailgate friendly. However, you will need to walk a few blocks away for a bathroom. It is at the NW corner of Irving and Harrison. Enter on Harrison, about 100 feet down the hill on the right side from the Irving/Harrison intersection. Harrison (one way down the hill to I-81) allows a fast escape to the interstate highways.

Tailgating on campus is much different than a lot of other universities due to this lack of parking. Most of it takes place in small parking lots and parking garages. If you park at a parking garage obviously take a spot on the roof. Don't even try cooking with propane or charcoal in the garages. You are smart to send a scout out early to claim a spot. For 12:00 kickoffs you should be able to find a decent spot as late as 9:30am. For 3:30pm or evening kickoffs you should arrive 3 hours prior.

The University recommends visitors without passes to park at Skytop, this map will give you a good overview of where it is in relation to the main campus. It is located about 1 mile south on Comstock from the main campus just past Manley Field House. Shuttle buses are available and free and run continuously two hours before football games from both Skytop and Manley. Out of town RV’ers should expect to park at Skytop. Here is a visual look at the Skytop area. I have been told RV's can park at Skytop the night before the game. You should call parking services to check though. Tailgating out at Skytop is good but it is usually mellow with smaller tailgate groups. It is usually the most popular area for visiting fans to go to. The disadvantage is you usually need to take the shuttle to the game. It is about a two mile walk but it is a nice walk. Expect to pay $10 to park a car at Skytop. Bottom line: if in doubt before game day call the parking services department on campus for more info. NOTE: if you are bringing a group of fans in with a bus or RV, I recommend calling parking service if you want to park on campus. They will be able to sell you a parking spot very close (Henry Lot, look about two blocks west of the Dome) to the the Carrier Dome for $60 or out at Skytop for $40. This is a great deal as parking in here (Henry Lot) is usually reserved for fans who donate larger sums of money to the Orange Club)but visiting fans with RV's and Buses can also park there with advance notice. This view of how close your RV will be to the Dome from the Henry Lot should be the clincher. If parking services is giving you the run around try calling the SU Box Office at 888-DOMETIX (366-3849) for RV/Bus parking at the Henry Lot. If you get in the Henry Lot walk across the street to the Fine Lot (SW corner of Raynor and Henry) and say hello to me as I'll be at some games tailgating with The Fine Mess.

CENTRO Bus Service:

CENTRO (the local bus company) offers several great options from different parts of the city. Out of Towners if you find yourself staying near the Great Northern Mall (I-481 and SR 31) in Clay (North Side) or Wegman's Grocery Store in Dewitt (near I-481 and SR 5 on the east side) this could be a handy stress free option. They also provide this service for basketball games.

Tailgate Supplies:

Sporting My New Cuse Flag
From College Flags and Banners

New to 2010 are great tailgate products offered to my readers...BTW, you get a 10% discount.

College Flags and Banners Co. is the ultimate source for your tailgate. They offer a huge selection of college flags and banners including: Army, Cincinnati, Connecticut, ECU, Louisville, Memphis, Navy, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, USF, and WVU. Plus everything else you need for game day, from tailgating flagpoles and wheel stands to conference pennant sets. All products are officially licensed and ship within 24 hours. Order today and relieve 10% off your order by typing in coupon code "MARK10" at checkout.

If you are looking for more than just college try their sister company.

Other Sports Flags:
Sports Flags and Pennants Co. is the premium source for all of your NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and Nascar flags and pennants. Fast, secured shipping to your doorstep and all products are officially licensed. Through our site we are offering a coupon code for 10% off your order. Just enter "TMSF10" at checkout.

NOTE: In New York State you can buy beer in grocery stores but hard liquor and wines are sold in liquor stores. There is a movement to change this but I expect 2010 will still be the status quo as NY politics is well NY politics. Obviously the Huge 24/7 Walmarts (this one isn't a Super Center but it is close to the liquor stores mentioned below) around town offer good selection of tailgate supplies and beer. If you are already situated at your tailgate and need a few items try these places (all are within 10 mins of the campus): The Party Source (extensive beer selection) at 2646 Erie Blvd., Phone: (315) 446-8281, The biggest and closest liquor store is also out near the Party Source. Pascale's Liquor Square has a huge selection of liquor and wine. Galeville Grocery has an awesome amount of beer and good prices. It is pretty close to Carousel Mall on the north side. The closest Full Scale 24 hour Grocery Store is Price Chopper at 2515 Erie Blvd., Ph 315-449-2314.. If you want to shop the best Supermarket Syracuse has to offer try the Wegman's Chain (this one is about 10 mins from the University. They have a very loyal following on the east coast. NOTE: Allow an hour to shop here--once you enter you get sucked in and don't want to leave. LOL

Money Saver Tip: Wegmans, Price Chopper and the P+C Grocery Stores in Syracuse use loyalty cards. P+C Grocery Stores underwent bankruptcy in 2009 and Top's Super Markets took them over. They plan to keep the P+C name. If you are a one time shopper usually if you ask a person in line they'll let you borrow their card to swipe for the discounts or the checkout person sometimes will swipe a card for you.

If you can't drive and are tailgating on/just off campus and need some beer/food. The closest walkable place is a Quickway Food Mart at 701 Crouse and Adams, Ph 315-475-0900 (about a block north of Marshall Street Ticket Scalping Area). They offer a limited selection of beer and some food stuffs.


NOTE: As of March 2008 the Orange Express Train Service was discontinued. There are some behind the scenes efforts to keep it running for in the future for sporting events. The good news: merchants around Armory Square are running buses from Armory Square to the Dome.

Okay so no train. You can still tailgate downtown and take a shuttle bus from Armory Square. Armory Square is a fabulous area of entertainment choices about 1.5 miles away in Downtown Syracuse. It literally was a decaying old warehouse area that was rejuvenated in the last 15-20 years.The local bars and restaurants are running a free shuttle bus that leaves from Walton Street in the heart of Armory Square. They start bus service 40 minutes before kickoff and go until 20 minutes before kickoff. After the game go back to the same spot you were dropped off at and take the bus back. IT IS FREE!

The merchants hope you party before and after kickoff with them. I would certainly stop in and give them some business. However, if you want to tailgate find a nearby parking lot and go for it. The Trolley Lot is large and RV friendly. Enter through a tunnel off the circle around the MOST Museum. Look for the tunnel under the train track here to the Trolley Lot (Use the streetview option to get a picture). There was free parking there during the day last year. I expect it the same this year. Night games you might have to pay $5.

I can't vouch for how the tailgating is downtown anymore since the train left. However, it is okay to tailgate in the lots downtown. If you park at the Trolley Lot or any of the other nearby lots in the Armory Square Entertainment area you should some some others doing the same.

Be sure to visit PJ's Pub and Grill and SyracuseSuds and say thanks for the buses.

The Carrier Dome Switched To FieldTurf in 2005

TAILGATE HAVEN--Total Tailgating Resource

Tailgate Haven is your total resource for setting up and managing your football tailgate online. Do you think the tailgate is sometimes just as important as the game? The goal of Tailgate Haven is to make your life easier by organizing your tailgate group; thus eliminating countless emails, text messages and phone calls about the current weeks tailgate information. The concept is simple but pure genius. You easily register by choosing your favorite team and picking a creative name for your tailgate group. Now log in and instantly each of your teams games becomes its own webpage with your team colors. Next, invite your friends to join your tailgate group and the site comes to life. In addition to this tailgate manager, every team has its own tailgate profile. Do you travel to away games? This is where you can find the best information on where to park, find extra tickets, where to stay, eat, party and golf. Navigate the city easily as you travel to a stadium for the first time.


Tickets are a buyers market right now in Syracuse. The Dome's capacity is just shy of 50,000 but the last few years have seen crowds of around 30,000 for most games. There hasn't been a sellout in many years. I don't expect it to change until the Orange start winning again. The school offers Internet purchasing of tickets. They are doing both "print at home" and traditional mailing of tickets. If you arrive without tickets the best place to buy tickets are near the intersection of Marshall and Crouse, the walkway between the Quad (near Hendricks Chapel) and the Dome or the area surrounding the parking lots just west of the Dome. New York appears to be relaxing the rules on scalping tickets so the Police shouldn't bother you as long as you don't buy on the sidewalks next to the Dome. The actual rule appears to be within 1500' of the Dome. They arrested a few scalpers last March for the NCAA Basketball Regional. For Syracuse Football games they don't usually seem to be arresting but just stay away from the area near the Dome.

A few tried and true techniques to get the best price buying: 1. Know what a legit ticket looks like 2. Buy from your own fan base first 3. The smaller the group the smaller the price--single tickets are cheapest 4. Prices usually peak 1-2 hours before kickoff--inside an hour the closer to game time the cheaper the ticket, right after kickoff they plummet to near nothing 5. A fan walking to the stadium in with a group of friends and still holding extra tickets to sell will usually dump them for a cheap price (they do not want to miss the game and often they are doing a favor for a buddy to sell them) usually you'll spot them holding a finger or two out to their side or over their head or saying selling one, etc... 6. If you have to deal with a professional scalper--NEVER give him what he asks, have a seating chart with you, check to make sure all tickets are really together and for that game, offer him lower and be prepared to walk away, after you turn and walk away more than half the time in my experience they'll give in and take your offer, if you can afford to wait...wait inside 20 minutes to kickoff as the prices drop (assess the situation for the number of tickets available, how many you need before employing that strategy) 7. Don't be embarrassed to go back to a scalper to buy ticket(s) 10 minutes after you said no to his previous offer 8. Don't fall for their tactics to make you feel like you're ripping them off by "only offering $20 a ticket", etc...they love to play games with your self-image and ego.

The Dome mostly has aluminum bench seating (without backrests) and it is very easy to improve you seating into vacant areas. If you buy your tickets through your own University you should expect to be in the corner of the endzone near Section 111. Click here for the seating chart and here for what your view will look like. Normal questions about what you can bring into the stadium, where is disabled seating, etc...can be found here. Concessions include Beer (sales end at the start of the 3rd Quarter) and the normal food fare. I was told there is a better selection of beer on the first level. If you get a Dome Dog make sure it is Hoffman Brand. Concession prices are fairly cheap compared to those at some other Big East Stadiums. Beer is $5 for 16 ounces.

A FULL DOME--aka "The Loud House"

LODGING (Close):

Note: The local Syracuse Visitor’s website a good place to help you find addresses and phone numbers for businesses. If you have waited until summer or fall for football weekends the rates around the Dome will be high (local motels traditionally jack up the rates even higher for Parents Weekend over a standard football weekend). Bottom line, if you have a car and want to save money you should look to the suburbs or outlying towns (Clay, Auburn, Cortland, Tully, Oneida, etc...). Note: If you are in dire straits for lodging try this website for some "Mom and Pop" motels. I like the convenience of being near the Dome and usually stay Downtown or near the campus. If you are flying or taking the train in for the game most of these hotels listed below will pick you up at the Airport/Train Terminal via Courtesy Shuttle.

I've compiled a list a few places below that all have proximity to the Dome, you can walk to them all or take a Bus from Armory Square on gameday.

Downtown/SU Area Lodging

Econolodge (2 star quality) on James Street is usually the cheapest choice: Obviously, the benefit is you can get a room (they are clean) usually for around $60-100 with a breakfast and TV/Fridge/Microwave. Lately, the hotel has been jacking up the rates for some games. IMHO, it isn't worth paying $120+ for some of the games. It is about a mile walk to the Dome and about a half mile to Armory Square. They do provide courtesy shuttle to the airport and other locales. The downside is the distance to the Dome and it is near St Joseph’s Hospital. You'll hear the ambulances. Be advised there are some street people in the neighborhood but the area is as safe as you can expect for an urban downtown environment. The Parking Lot is secure and well lit and the manager lives on site. This is a great place to go with a bunch of guys--probably not the family. I have stayed here several times in the past and have never had a problem.

One other option for those on a very limited budget is the Hi-Downing Hostel about 1 1/4 mile from campus.

Parkview Hotel: A new boutique hotel opened May 2005. It is related to the Genesee Grande property a few blocks away and mentioned below. Bottomline: it is reasonable (mid 100s) and close (about 5/8ths mile away to the Dome). All rooms feature custom fabrics, bright living spaces and flat-screen LCD TV; extended-stay suites also have kitchenettes. The Parkview also provides voice mail, speaker phone, high-speed Internet access and a 24-hour on-site business center with administrative support. Local phone number is #315-701-2600 (you might be able to get a better discount by calling) and they do provide a courtesy shuttle.

Renaissance, formerly the Marx Hotel The Marx Hotel converted over to the upscale Marriott Renaissance brand in 2007. This hotel is a far cry from the mid 90's when it still looked like the old Holiday Inn stuck in the 70's. A major renovation has been done and it looks great. It is in my opinion the best value among the upscale hotels near the campus. Located about 5/8 mile from the Dome. Nice onsite restaurant. The place is very clean. Rooms are around $150. I have heard Redfield's is a great restaurant and located in the hotel.
A very nice point is the free covered parking lot.
Note: If you ask, you can get complimentary shuttles.
A View From the Rennaissance click to enlarge

Genesee Grande Inn They recently did a major renovation--it is just beautiful. It is about 1/2 mile walk to the Dome on the north edge of campus. The pricing varies from the mid 100s and up (Suites). Valet parking is available. The restaurant has received good reviews. In fact the 1060 Lounge offers their famous Syracuse #44 Burger on game day as well as drink specials. This place sounds real good if you are bringing your wife. Be advised the neighborhood turns dicey about several blocks away east or north.

Sheraton at the UniversityThis is the place to stay if you want to soak up the college experience. It is literally steps from the Dome. I always run into somebody famous there on game day. The downside is it is expensive ($200+ a night) and most football weekends will book up early. On game day it has a lot of people mingling and the Hotel sets up a tailgate (fee to get food/drinks) outside for guests and visitors alike.

Sheraton at the University the closest Hotel to the Dome

Closest (Upscale) to Armory Square/Bars:
Jefferson-Clinton Hotel (nee Hawthorn Suites) at Armory Square This is my favorite place but that is the problem, it is also with others and is usually booked. The Hotel is across the street from the Trolley Lot and within staggering distance of all the bars at Armory Square. It is amazing what they did to the old Jefferson-Clinton, a one-time “flea bag” hotel in the 70s. If you get lucky with reservations expect to pay $150+ a night for a Queen Euro. Suites are $225+. A hot breakfast buffet is included. Free parking is outdoors in a contracted lot, valet/concierge services available.

LODGING (5-15 minutes away)

There are quite a few motels in the Carrier Circle area. This area is about 3 miles northeast of the university near the Thruway (I-90, exit 35) interchange by the same name.

Another area is around the intersection of I-81 and I-90. The 7th North area also has several options. Two independent motels here are worth checking out. The Maplewood Inn and the United Inn sometimes will offer much cheaper rates but still are well maintained properties. A real bargain can usually be had at the Econolodge near the Airport. The property is nearly new and clean and less than 10 minutes from the campus and real close to the next two suggestions. Two newer hotels are a Candlewood Suites and a Holiday Inn Express located about 5 miles N of the Dome at the entrance to the Airport on South Bay Road. I recently stayed at both the Holiday Inn Express Airport and the nearby Econolodge and was quite pleased. They both were very clean properties only about 3 mins from the terminal and very close to several restaurants. They may have rooms available when others are sold out. If you want something a little different in a motel try the Red Mill Inn in Baldwinsville. It is a neat little village about 15 minutes northwest of Downtown. The Hotel is an old mill on an island next to the old Erie Canal. Prices are generally about $100 a night and people have told me it is a great alternative to chain motels. Hint: A new Holiday Inn Express just converted from a Wingate in 2010 it is about 6 miles NW of the Dome near Exit 39 on the Thruway. New for 2010 and close to the Dome are a Holiday Inn Express a few miles east and a Hampton Inn at Erie Blvd and Thompson Road also a few miles east.

The Red Mill Inn lodging next to the lock on the canal

If you are looking for a Bed and Breakfast in the city try Moonstruck Manor on the west side. If you want a romantic getaway town, I recommend Skaneateles (pronounced "skinny-atlas"), Aurora or Cazenovia (pronounced "Caz-a-no-via"). Each village is charming and possesses excellent hotels, B and B’s and restaurants. One of the best lodges (Mirbeau) in the country is located in Skaneateles. Another lodge with an excellent reputation is the Sherwood Inn. If you are looking for a more casual lodging experience in Skaneateles try Skaneateles Suites. Both Skaneateles and Cazenovia are under 30 minutes from the University. Aurora is about 50 minutes southwest of Syracuse on Cayuga Lake and has The Aurora Inn in a quaint setting. A little bit closer in the eastern suburb of Fayetteville is the Craftsman Inn. The hotel is noted for fine Syracuse made Stickley Furniture. For the sportsmen: try a weekend trip of fishing and football. This resort has it all for you about 40 minutes north of Syracuse.

Skaneateles Suites: Unique collection of lodging options in a beautiful setting

SHOPPING (Nonfootball Watching Spouse Option)

Carousel Mall is huge and expanding. It should be able to keep your spouse busy for hours. It is located about 2 miles north of downtown off I-81. Be advised the mall will be undergoing major, major changes over the next 5-10 years. It is soon to be renamed DestiNY USA. It is planned to be a multi billion dollar destination place.

Carousel Mall--Phase One of Expansion (Photo from Syracuse.Com, Jun 13, 2008)

Two other shopping options: Shoppingtown Mall has been an institution in Syracuse for nearly 50 years. It is located near the hotels around Carrier Circle.

The COR Center has a nice mix of stores in a warm village atmosphere typically found in upper income areas, check out the Fayetteville Towne Center property. It is located on the east side about three miles further east from Shoppingtown. Note: There is a nice YMCA located at the development. UPDATE: LL Bean opened an outlet in late September 07. Another COR Center is in the northern suburb of Clay.

Sports Clothing: If you forgot a rain jacket or have a couple choices on Marshall Street: Shirt World, Manny's, and Syracuse University Bookstore. You can also try the Marshall Square Mall just behind Marshall Street.


When you arrive back after the game, a multitude of choices in the Armory Square area await you.

Visitors should check out: Syracuse Suds Factory and world famous Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, the Blue Tusk (a cool meeting place with an awesome selection of beer on tap), and Clark's Ale House. Clark's in my opinion has the best roast beef sandwich I have ever tasted. Dinosaur has the best BBQ in the North and the most eclectic atmosphere of any place in CNY. Lemongrass and Bistro Elephant offers upscale Thai-Pacific Rim and Euro=Asian Food respectively as good as you'll get in large metropolitan areas. Great News! Armory Square has reopened its second brew pub in summer '07. The Empire Brewing Company shut down and reopened. I visited fall '07 and it still retained its quality of food and brew before. It is a must for visitors. BTW, the other Brew Pub (Syracuse Suds-mentioned above) is also quite good and has TVs for viewing games. Finally the Syracuse Downtown Committee has put together a nice compilation of where to eat, shop and play in Armory Square.

World Famous Dinosaur Barbeque--CLICK Here For VIDEO
Photo by Lucy Saunders (c) Who does a website about cooking with beer that is very useful for tailgating.

Still in Armory Square is a cool Irish Pub with good food called Kitty Hoynes. A nice Italian Restaurant called Pastabilities was one of the original pioneers in the Armory Square area. The Black Olive serves Greek/Mediterranean specialties and is located in the Armory Square area. Finally, a new restaurant that has good reviews is the upscale BC Restaurant. Not in Armory Square but a few blocks away by the OnCenter is Ale 'n' Angus Pub. It serves awesome steaks, burgers, and other American favorites at reasonable prices.

If you want a neat place to kill a few hours or you have children with you should check out M.O.S.T. it is an interactive science and children's museum. MOST also has an IMAX movie theater.

Blue Task and Kitty Hoyne's--two great places to have a drink

The City of Syracuse has a good website for visitors that is also worth checking out.

HANOVER SQUARE (Another Downtown Option)

Hanover Square is a smaller version of Armory Square but it is considered quite good. Hanover Square is #5 on the linked map is bit more sedate and caters more to the 25+ crowd. The live music scene is alive an well at the Bull and Bear Pub. Bull and Bear Pub offers a Food Menu. If you desire Italian try Anthony's Pasta Bar. If French is your choice, try L'Adour. Just around the corner from Hanover Square is a nice Restaurant called Traditions of Syracuse at 201 S. Salina Street. Finally, the Downtown Committee has put together a nice compilation of where to eat, shop and play in the Hanover Square area.

If you want the college experience you need go no farther than the Marshall Street area (this is the main retail area for Syracuse University just a few blocks from the Dome).

Another option is the funky off campus college neighborhood on Westcott Street (between Genesee and Euclid) about ½ mile away. There are several neat little restaurants and bars.

If you are staying at the Renaissance, Parkview, Genesse Grande, or Sheraton the dolce vita world bistro bar/kitchen is nearby at 907 E. Genesee St. It offers Wi-Fi, big screen TVs, craft beers, world-infused cuisine at reasonable prices.

Places that come highly recommended in the Marshall Street area (the main student retail center about 3 blocks from the Dome) are Faegan’s CafĂ© and Pub (famous beer and food joint for meeting friends), Varsity Pizza (local institution where all SU’s opponents pennants are on the wall. If SU wins a SU player gets the honor to turn the losing team’s pennant upside down) of course has good, cheap NY style pizza, Acropolis Pizza and Cosmo Pizza (two another great pizza places) and King David (Middle Eastern and Greek food). While famous Hungry Charlies is gone, Chuck's Cafe replaced it. The food is decent but on gameday and the evenings this place is hopping with coeds. A few more places can be found at the "Shoppes at Campus Plaza". Walk downhill on Crouse just below Marshall Street and turn right into an alley. You can find several ethnic restaurants and bars there. Sal's Birdland is noted for their Wings and located in the Schine Student Center on campus. While not on the University proper a new Chipotle Restaurant is scheduled to open up soon near on Erie Blvd.


A few other unique places (you’ll need a car) to try: Heid’s of Liverpool is located about four miles north of downtown in the quaint village of Liverpool. The art deco styled restaurant has been an institution for generations of Syracuse residents. You need to try the coney “co-nee” (a white hot). Hoffman white "Coneys" aka "snappy griller" and red "Texas Hots", made in Syracuse and Served at Heids Here is a video of Heid's.

Tailgate Food Suggestions:
The Coney and Texas Hot served at Heid's is actually made by Hoffman Sausage. It is a local treasure and most Syracuse natives prefer no other. Like wise Syracuse prefers Gianelli Italian Sausage. I highly recommend trying them at your tailgate in Syracuse. The Hoffman and Gianelli products are found in the deli/meat section of most CNY grocery stores.

Heid's of Liverpool

Another unique place is Coleman’s Irish Pub in the Irish neighborhood of Tipperary Hill. Tipperary Hill is famous for having the only green over red traffic light in the USA. The restaurant can be difficult to find so I suggest you print out a good map. The food is excellent and the atmosphere can’t be beat. It has been rated as one of America's 10 great Irish Pubs.

Coleman's Pub--Check Out The Leprechaun's Door

If you want to try barbecue on the north side of town the Limp Lizard is for you. It has a legion of devotees that nearly rival's the more famous Dinosaur BBQ downtown. It also has a biker and blues theme and is fabulous. Syracuse has become a great city for barbecue. The North Syracuse Limp lizard location is about 5 minutes from the airport. The other location (Onondaga Blvd) is SW of downtown.

Limp Lizard Barbecue--definitely worth driving to.

The Retreat Restaurant is located in the Village of Liverpool. (Not far from Heid's, and close to Onondaga Lake Park). It has great food and caters to fans. Their spacious bar dining area boasts 25 large screen TVs, including our 110-inch high-definition projection TV.

Retreat Restaurant...serving great food for nearly 30 years

If you are coming from the South or Midwest you should try the Clam Bar for excellent seafood. I love their haddock fish sandwich. It is huge! It is located near W. Taft Rd and Brewerton Road ( US 11) also known as “Sweetheart Corner” in North Syracuse. It is about five miles north of Downtown. Parking is located in the rear off South Bay Road.

Another famous seafood restaurant in Syracuse is Doug's Fish Fry. There are several locations throughout Central New York. It is especially well worth the drive to Doug's in the scenic village of Skaneateles.

Scenic Skaneateles (skinny-atlas)is 25 mins SW of Syracuse

Another excellent restaurant on the north side is Zebb's in Mattydale. Zebb's is located right next to the northbound Interstate 81 exit 26, in the Mattydale Plaza, opposite the parking lot from the K-Mart, about 4 miles north of downtown. Zebb's offers a varied menu with great burgers, BBQ, salads, etc. Another restaurant on the north side is famous for their comfort food. Located about 10 mins north of downtown in Cicero is home to, Thee Diner, it is about 1/2 mile east of I-81 on SR 31 across the street from Cicero-N. Syracuse High School. It offers a diner type menu (most items under $8) with some of the best desserts to be found. If you crave fried chicken and other good fast food try heading over to Solvay (5 mins west of downtown) to Sam's Chicken Land. They also have great cheese steaks and gyros.

Little Italy

If you crave Italian Food you should wander around Syracuse’s “Little Italy”. It is located just north of downtown. Francesca's Cucina in Little Italy is know for great food. You must try the local specialty "Utica Greens" at Francesca's. Also in Little Italy is Asti Caffe. They known for their Shrimp Scampi and other Italian specialties. Another Italian restaurant near Little Italy is Gentile's Restaurant, they serve "eclectic Italian". Finally, the best pastry shop in Syracuse is in Little Italy. The Biscotti Cafe is one of those places you quit your diet for a day. All types of Italian pastries will be sure to please. Biscotti Cafe also offers excellent Italian style sandwiches. Angotti's (a little less expensive and more children friendly) and located about 3/4 miles east of Little Italy. Another Italian Restaurant located about 2 miles NE of Little Italy in the Syracuse neighborhood of Eastwood is Michael Angelo's. Michael Angelo's is an upscale Italian diner/restaurant located in a small strip mall on James St a couple of places down from Mother's and Friendly's (more west towards Eastwood). Just opened in January. Their chef/cook is the guy who made the chicken riggies at Antonio's famous locally. Great food. Recommend the chicken riggies, the haddock sandwich, the lasagna, if it has sauce on it, you are going to love it. Prices are very good as well.

One more excellent restaurant is Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse, located on Erie Blvd East near Thompson Road, not far from Carrier Circle or the SU campus. It has become a great meeting spot for people who enjoy huge steaks and great Italian Food. You’ll have to try the 24 ounce steak and pasta for under $18.00! One last excellent Italian Restaurant is Casa di Copani, located about two miles northeast of downtown on Burnet Ave, near Thompson Road, also not far from Carrier Circle.

If you crave a great sandwich/sub in the Jewish Deli style then look no further than the Brooklyn Pickle. They have an extensive menu and you will not leave hungry. They are at the corner of Midler and Burnet next to I-690 about 1 mile east of the university. They cater. Phone: 315-463-4969.

If you like steak sandwiches, have a big appetite and are on a budget (I am assuming all apply to a college student), I would recommend Second North Deli. Order the house specialty, the Fresh London Broil sandwich. It costs $5.95 for a whole (can't order a half). Spend the extra .80 or whatever it is to add the mushrooms and the onions. Comes on a great freshly baked hard roll. Just an outstanding value. And while you are there, get an order of their potato chips, made in house, served hot from the deep fryer. Order them extra crispy.

If you are looking for a Philly Cheese-steak I suggest A Taste of Philadelphia on the NE side of the city in the Eastwood neighborhood.

Finally, another great cheese steak and pizza can be found about 10 mins SE of downtown at Robbie T's.

SPORTS BAR ALERT: Good news--walking the campus looking for new sports bars yielded me a new one offering ESPN Gameplan on campus. ZJ's Pizza and Wings (aka Harry's) offers multiple screens with ESPN gameplan. It is located at 700 S. Crouse Ave in the basement....look for the CVS drugstore. No website but you can call them to see if they'll put on your game (315-422-2123). Another place on campus is Chuck's Cafe(nee: Hungry Charlies) and is located in an alley just north of Marshall Street. Chuck's is a great place to watch a game during the day.

In the local area: If you are looking for good times and good food in a sports bar offering ESPN Gameplan, you need to drive to one of the four Tully's locations in the Syracuse/Liverpool area. A west side favorite is Rosie's Sports Pub and Grill located at 1443 W. Genesee St. 315-468-1269. They offer ESPN Gameplan. Another classic sports bar is Buffalo Wild Wings. It is located near Lowes off Route 11 and Circle Drive in the North Syracuse/Cicero area and they offer all the college games via ESPN gameplan, Directv, etc... Another place to check is the Beginning II, it is very close to the Carrier Circle Motel area. I recommend calling to see if they can get your college game as I'm not sure if they offer ESPN Gameplan. Quaker State and Lube has quite a following and is another option to watch games--however it is located about 8 miles NW of the Dome.


Central New York is blessed with a wide variety of affordable public golf courses. If you are a golfer and have time to get in a round, bring your clubs and check out one of the local tracts. You should be able to play golf in CNY at least through the end of October and sometimes you can get a round in during November. Here is a quick rundown of some of the best choices the area has to offer:

Green Lakes Golf Course--a great bargain

Green Lakes

Green Lakes is a state course designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Sr in 1935. Built on a series of drumlins about 10 miles east of Syracuse, the course is very hilly. Flat lies are rare. Not very long...5920 from the white tees and 6212 from the blues. The greens feature the massive undulations that became a trademark of the young RTJ. Some look like potato chips. Very pretty area. You can see Oneida Lake and the foothills of the Adirondacks from the high points of the course. Closes just after Thanksgiving each year.
The course was not well maintained just a few years ago. An extensive irrigation system has been installed and the course is looking better since they become operational.
Yardage: reds: 5481, whites: 5920, blues: 6212.

Battle Island State Park Golf Course

If you are staying in the northern suburbs this is a fun course to play. It sits next to the Oswego River on State Route 48 a few miles north of Fulton. It is about 25 minutes from Downtown. It has hills, a little bit of water and no sand but fairly tight fairways in places. It is a real nice value and in decent shape. It is short but you'll use every club in your bag save your sand wedge. Par 72 plays from about 5400 to 6000 yards.


Radisson Greens Golf Club is a semi private, 18 hole layout. It is located northwest of the city of Syracuse, about 20 minutes from downtown near the village of Baldwinsville. The design features large, bent grass greens, tight tree-lined fairways, large bunkers guarding all greens, with fairway bunkers on all but 5 holes. Lakes provide water in play on 6 holes and add to a challenging round for the most skilled player, packaged in a beautiful, scenic layout. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., the course opened in 1978.
The course features a number of striking and impressive holes and is arguably the most challenging layout for a public course in Onondaga County (the Turning Stone courses are not in Onondaga County). It is unfortunately not well maintained. Bunkers are rarely raked and the fairways are troubled in some areas.
Yardage: reds: 5543, whites: 6360, blues: 7010.
Weekend cost: varies.....see the web site.

Links at Sunset Ridge

The Links at Sunset Ridge is a relatively new course in Marcellus, about 20 minutes west of the SU campus. Built on rolling hills, the course features some great views of the surrounding countryside and farms. It is consistently well maintained.
The course is fairly wide open and has little danger....water and sand come into play on only a handful of holes. Despite having 6 par 5s, it is fairly short. The greens are hard to read and fairly quick. The carts are outfitted with GPS devices.
Yardage: reds: 5298, whites: 6123, blues: 6700

The 16th hole at Links at Sunset Ridge requires a precise approach shot over a large ridge to a green cut into the side of a large hill.


Foxfire is a challenging course located just off route 690. about 15 minutes northwest of the city of Syracuse. The well manicured layout meanders through various townhouses, patio homes and private residences. The fairways are fairly tight and most of the greens are protected by several fairway and greenside bunkers.
The course is generally well maintained.
Yardage: reds: 5401, whites: 6372, blues: 6856

Timber Banks

Timber Banks is a high end Nicklaus course built on the Seneca River around a residential community. Nice design. Nice practice facilities. They opened the back nine in 2009 and the front nine just made its debut in 2010. They tout it as a Turning Stone Casino level golf facility with a shorter drive and a lower price. Haven't played the front yet but based on what I have seen to date, I think that is going to end up being pretty much on the money. Green Fees are from about $40-65.

Timber Banks, new to the scene in 2009

Turning Stone

The Oneida Nation Turning Stone golf facility has emerged as the premiere golf destination in New York State. In fact it just hosted its first PGA Tour last September. It features 3 outstanding premium priced 18 hole courses: Atunyote, Kaluyat and Shenendoah. All three are spectacular designs, especially Atunyote, which hosts an annual PGA event the 3rd week of September. All have been built in the past 5 years. All are extremely well maintained. If you have the money and the game, this is the place to go. Note that Turning Stone is a 35 minute drive from downtown Syracuse. It is worth the drive.

Atunyote reds: 5102, gold: 6069, whites: 6561, blues: 6998 Weekend cost: varies....see web site (but $150-$200)

Kaluhyat reds: 5293, gold: 5690, whites: 6183, blues: 6724 Weekend cost: varies....see web site (but $70-$125)

Shenendoah reds: 5185, gold: 5839, whites: 6328, blues: 6685 Weekend cost: varies....see web site (but $70-$125)




Drumlins West

If you are golf challenged and/or budget challenged, consider playing at the Drumlins West Course. Drumlins is owned by Syracuse University and is located very near the SU South Campus. The West Course is open to the public, features short holes and open fairways and great rates ($17 to walk the course).

Orchard Vali

For you bad weather "golfaholics" I offer Orchard Vali. It is located about 10 mins south of downtown. It is short, rather wide opened golf course suitable for the beginner/hacker or the golfer who wants to get a round in when other courses are closed. It is noted for the fastest drying fairways in the area due to a gravel base. Rates are reasonable and food is very good.

Finally, if you just want to work on your irons the city offers two municipal 9 hole courses. Rates are very reasonable--about $6 but you get what you pay for--don't expect alot. Burnet Park Golf Course is about a mile west of downtown. Sunnycrest Park Golf Course is about 1 mile northeast of downtown.

Hope this helps! TexanMark

The opinions expressed in this guide are those of TexanMark. While every effort has been made to ensure all the information presented is accurate and current, it would be wise to verify things when possible. Please note that this guide is not endorsed by, or its site publishers, administrators and/or moderators.

Return to TexanMark's Tailgate Guides Main Page

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rutgers Tailgate and Visitors Guide '09

New Brunswick (Raritan River in background) Click to enlarge
Photo Courtesy of RUNYYFan

This is one of a series of tailgating guides for Big East football schools written by Syracuse fan and tailgate aficionado TexanMark. If you have any feedback or additional information you think belongs in this guide, please drop an email message to Mark by clicking here.

Rutgers University is located about 30 miles southwest of Manhattan along both banks of the Raritan river in the City of New Brunswick and the suburban Township of Piscataway, New Jersey. It can be an intimidating environment for the uninitiated. Traffic and a confusing road network compound a new visitor’s anxiety. The whole key is to have a well thought out game plan. Folks, this isn’t like driving to Syracuse, Louisville or Morgantown. You can’t drive into town with just a hazy idea where to go. If you prepare well, you will reap the rewards of having a car to visit many of New Jersey’s hidden secrets. If you decide against driving flying into Newark Liberty International or taking the train into New Brunswick are your two best options. I think most fans will be pleasantly surprised with a trip to Rutgers. IMHO, if you have a few extra days, you have the best city (good link for an overview of option to get from Airports to midtown) in the world 45 minutes away to visit. This website can help you figure out which subway line to take in NYC. Philadelphia is a decent alternate airport especially if you are flying USAirways, Southwest or AirTran. It is about 90 minutes from Rutgers. I saved $150+ flying in to Philly per ticket from Texas as opposed to Newark in 2008.


You can fly into Newark and rent a car and drive to Rutgers. If you decide to rent a car, you need to do your homework. Note: Leaving Newark International airport without an explicit set of directions is a sure way to risk embarrassment or worse yet an accident. There is another option for anybody who isn’t comfortable driving in a busy, fast paced area. It is possible to fly into Newark Liberty International and get to the game without using a car. You can get a train from the airport and take it into New Brunswick. From there your hotel should be able to provide you a courtesy shuttle. Expect to take a cab or hop a ride with fellow fans to the game though unless you are staying in downtown New Brunswick. Note: There are not any motels really close to the stadium but the Hyatt and Heldrich (see below in Lodging) offer shuttles to the game and are very close to the train station. If you leaving immediately after the game you can get a shuttle back to New Brunswick and work your way back to the airport or Midtown Manhattan. NOTE: Rutgers Fans have told me that there are many shuttles running and even if you aren't staying at the Hyatt or Heldrich you can move easily between the stadium and Downtown New Brunswick and the train station.

AirTrain to NJ Transit

How to Transfer to the train after landing at Newark Int’l:
1. Find out which terminal you are arriving to.

2. Obviously collect your bags

3. Proceed to the airport shuttle train. Look for signs marked Monorail / AirTrain Link. Note: Do not follow signs for Ground Transportation. There are three different terminals (A, B and C) and you need to get on the shuttle (AirTrain) and go to the Newark Liberty Int’l Train Station. Note: AirTrain takes you between the airline terminals, central parking areas, car rental facilities and hotel courtesy vehicles. All travel within the airport is free. You need to go past Terminal C and P4 (Parking) and onto the train station.

4. Get off the AirTrain Shuttle From the NJ Guide, “When you exit AirTrain at Newark Liberty International Airport Train Station, follow the signs to NJ TRANSIT trains. You will go up one level, pass through the fare gates and go down one level onto the NJ TRANSIT train platforms. It takes approximately 5 minutes to get from AirTrain to the NJ TRANSIT platform.” A nice 360 view of the ticket/gate area is here.

5. Purchase your ticket; there are several different areas where to purchase your ticket. NOTE: AirTrain is free around the airport but you pay an approximate $5 surcharge to exit the airport using AirTrain on top of what NJTransit or Amtrak charges. If you are a first time visitor, it is best to get it at the Train Station. You are going to the Central New Jersey area. You want to get on the New Jersey Transit Northeast Corridor Line (NEC) run by NJ Transit. A sample check for a Saturday shows a train leaving about every 20-30 minutes to New Brunswick. The cost is about $13.00 (which includes the $5.00 airport fee). If you get on the train without a ticket you can pay the conductor cash but he/she will charge you an additional $5. More info about the NEC here. Using the trip planner select Newark Airport and New Brunswick for your departure/destination as appropriate. Note: Some of the options have you getting on the “North Jersey Coastline” and transferring at the Rahway Station. One other option is to take Amtrak from the Airport but it is quite a bit more expensive than NJTransit.

6. Get off at the New Brunswick Train Station. It is located in downtown New Brunswick at the intersection or Easton Ave (Route 527) and Albany Ave (Route 27). You are within walking distance (a tad over a mile) of the Busch Campus where the Football Field is located. There are shuttle buses that run from the Hyatt Hotel and and the Ferren Parking Deck (across from the train station) in NB directly to the stadium.

Best Bet: Take the Red Northeast Corridor line to New Brunswick, be careful to avoid express routes which do not stop at New BrunswickClick to enlarge

Driving By Car

The official Rutgers University web site has directions from several approaches. I have been told by Rutgers fan Scarlet16E to forget them. Generally your best course of action is to
come in on I-287 and exit 7 or 8 (and follow signs. This is accessed from the New Jersey Turnpike (NJTP) exit 10 or The Garden State Parkway (GSP) exit 127.
Route 18 through New Brunswick will take you an extra hour on game day, and River Road is the absolute worst way to get to the stadium (TRAFFIC). A RU Fan noted:
Given the construction going on you may want to mention it for those trying to enter the stadium from the south end. It may be limited or no access from the river road side. Keep checking the Rutgers Website for official info.

287 exits 7 & 8 both have signs directing you to Hoes Lane which eventually becomes Route 18 as you head south, however you will then take the RAC exit or Campus Road exit before getting on to Route 18.
Use this Map of New Brunswick, NJ US as a guide.

NOTE: Ongoing construction of NJ Route 18 may affect your travels, check here for up to date info. Construction is expected to continue into 2009. NOTE: It is nearing completion in late 2009 and shouldn't be much of a problem now.

NOTE 2: This definitely applies for weeknight games. If you are driving from North NJ or NYC and taking the NJ Turnpike do not use exit 9 and NJ Route 18 to get to the game. It is much quicker if you take I-287 (NJ Turnpike Exit 10) to the west and take a surface street into the stadium.

Finally, one more useful web site with directions is here.

Rutgers Stadium


PARKING AT RUTGERS--mostly prepaid except for the RAC, downtown and a few other spots

Parking is not easy at Rutgers, especially since they are now drawing great crowds. Officially, all parking on the Busch Campus (stadium is located at the south end of Busch Campus) is prepaid except the RAC lot (Rutgers Basketball Arena about 1 mile from the stadium) with one notable exception (see insider parking tips). The RAC lot now costs $20! A nice overview (Interactive Map) of the Busch, Livingston and College Ave campuses shows you that Rutgers is spread out among many different locales.

Gameday Parking Options

College Ave Area Downtown: You can park for free on the College Ave. campus during game day (weekend games only) and walk or shuttle to the game. The best thing to do is park in one of the lots behind the College Avenue Gym (College Ave and Senior Street)and then jump on one of the buses that are lined up in front of the gym. There's also plenty of parking along Senior Street and Sicard St. alongside of and beyond the gym. There are indoor rest rooms in the student center next door to the gym. I have been told the parking lots here are not known for tailgating but parking for patrons of nearby bars. However, if your plans are modest, "what the hay" give it a shot and set up a couple chairs. Before cracking beers open you should to check about open containers though.

Ferren Deck Downtown: When you buy your Rutgers ticket, you might be able to buy a parking pass for the Busch Campus (where the stadium is located). Possibly visiting fans can pay for this option through through their university but you need to work this out with your school. I wasn't given an option when I bought tickets through Syracuse. If it isn't available then then parking at the RAC on gameday is your easiest option besides the College Avenue (New Brunswick) Campus or adjoining areas in downtown New Brunswick. On weekends you will be able to park for free (from 7:30am Saturday to 7:30am Monday) at the Ferren Daily Deck. It is across from the Train Station. You can then take the same shuttle bus serving the train to Johnson Park (located just south of the stadium). For a weekday game this might still be a viable option since the parking rate is reasonable.

Buccleuch Park: sits just across the Raritan River from the stadium. It is a 15 minute walk. If you arrive about 3 hours before kickoff you should be able to park for free here. Rutgers fan ABRO1975 states, "There is a circular road that loops around the park. Parallel parking anywhere here is fine, unless sign prohibits (usually fire hydrants). There is a small lot with spaces. The circular lot is about a mile in distance, the further west in the park you are, the closer you are to the Landing Lane Bridge, where you cross over the Raritan River. A good landmark is the high rise apartment building, which is adjacent to Landing Lane Bridge. You can see the High Rise Apt from anywhere in the park. If you get there anywhere before 10:30 you should be fine for a Noon Kickoff." I would assume allow at least 2 hours for later kickoffs. Since it is a park you should be able to do a modest amount of tailgating. Just see what the Rutgers fans are doing.

Saint George Greek Orthodox Church Lot: It is pricey but very close and secure. It does allow a kick getaway if you need it. They charge $35 (tax deductible with receipt) and open four hours before kickoff. They do allow beer but obviously frown upon rowdiness. They offer indoor bathrooms--a real plus for the ladies. They have 250 spaces, first come, first serve. They also sell pre-paid season passes for Rutgers fans. If anyone wishes to secure their spots (10 or more), please send an e-mail: and they will be able to accommodate your request.
Lot usually fills one hour before kick-off but varies with the opponent.

Insider Parking Tip: There used to be several spots you could park on the Busch campus for free. They are gone. There are two gameday cash lots. The RAC and the other unpublicized lot is located in front of the Physics Building at Lot 53. You should get there at least 3 hours prior to kickoff to assure a spot. It is located at the corner of Frelinghuysen Rd. and Allison Rd. I would recommend having a campus map and a Plan B in case the lot is full. It costs $20 the same as the RAC. BTW, the Busch Student Campus Center which also has a has a convenience store if you need some extra drinks for your tailgate. This is current for 2008, with stadium expansion happening it most likely will be different in 2009. Thanks to Rutgers fan RUNYYFan for the tip.


Those with RVs will need to park at the RAC unless they have a parking pass in advance to park elsewhere. I would recommend calling parking services for the latest guidance. Cars are $20 to park. Not sure what RVs are charged. Rutgers fans have told me RVs can park in the permit lots. I'm not so sure about 2008, RVers need to call to check. The following is the parking info supplied by the University.

The official Rutgers Policy for 2008.

Unofficial Note from a Rutgers Fan: “It's not in writing, but if you bring an RV to the game, park at the RAC. I know for a fact, you will be able to park overnight. The RAC is the place to go if you don't have prepaid parking passes.” A shuttle bus runs before and after games between the RAC parking lots and the football stadium. Cost is $20 for cars.

Rutgers Tailgating

Tailgating suffers officially from short duration (officially only starts three hours before kickoff) but you can tailgate until dusk if you have an early kickoff. Numerous fans have told me you can start tailgating waaaay earlier than three hours prior to kickoff. Fans told me you can arrive early to the RAC and if a parking attendant isn't there to drive in and park. They will be by to collect the money.

With the improved team play Rutgers is developing a large tailgating scene. Rutgers has always done up tailgating right, some have suggested they were the first school to tailgate. During the "dark years" some fans would only tailgate and not even go to the game, not anymore! Bottomline: I wouldn't worry too much about the three hour before rule and show up 5+ hours before kickoff and stay as long as you want afterwards. The RAC is a good place to go for visitors since Rutgers opens up the bathrooms inside the RAC to use (always popular with the ladies). The university web site outlines the following policies:

Tailgate Policies
• Parking lots open three hours before kick-off and close at dusk.

• Parking spaces are limited and tailgating must be confined to a small area around your vehicle. For safety purposes, traffic aisles & parking spaces can not be blocked at any time.

• For fans wishing to park together, all vehicles must enter lots at the same time, displaying matching parking passes.

• For reasons of crowd safety, all stadium parking lots are reserved for those attending the game. If you do not attend the game you will be asked to leave the stadium parking lots at kick-off time.

• University regulations and state statutes on drug and alcohol consumption will be strictly enforced.

• Kegs, beer balls, tents and canopies are prohibited. These items are not permitted in the parking lots/adjacent areas at any time. Note: I have been told by Rutgers fans the canopy/tent policy isn't enforced.

• For safety purposes, charcoal should be discarded in specially marked yellow barrels located throughout the parking lots.

• Please remember that the grass fields are used by our students for recreation; putting trash in proper receptacles is appreciated.

Stadium Policies
• Emergency medical and police assistance is available at the First Aid and Police Command Posts inside the Stadium North Gate on the lower concourse. Medical assistance is also available at the Upper West and Upper East Concourses or by contacting the nearest usher.

• No smoking in seating area, bathrooms and lower and upper concourses.

• No pass outs allowed. Once you have entered the stadium, if you leave, you will not be allowed to re-enter the stadium. Ticket stubs are not valid for re-entry.

• Fans should not bring large bags, backpacks, and similar items into Rutgers Stadium. All items brought into the stadium will be inspected, including small bags such as purses and diaper bags. Spectators can speed their entry into the stadium by leaving these items behind. Rutgers Stadium regulations prohibit glass bottles, cans, alcoholic beverages, coolers, umbrellas, noisemakers, pets, (with the exception of guide dogs) balls, weapons, sticks/poles, containers, fireworks, and any other items deemed dangerous or inappropriate from being brought into the facility. By use of your ticket, you consent to a reasonable search for prohibited items.

Scalping and You

A few years ago you could get freebies. Not anymore. A disclaimer:
The maximum resale premium, in accordance with New Jersey State Law, is 20 percent of the ticket price or $3, whichever is greater.
For 2009 Rutgers has expanded their stadium. The early season games should definitely be a buyers market as the the opponents are not good and the stadium will not be sold out.

Now where do you look? The most popular area is along "Scarlet Knight Way" (Frelinghuysen Rd) near the intersection of Sutphen Rd. This is just north of the Stadium. On game days this road is a pedestrian walkway into the stadium from the Blue, Yellow and Purple lots. Another area is on the far side of the practice bubble in the vicinty of where the RAC shuttle bus drops off fans. Stubhub is another souce of tickets.

A few tried and true techniques to get the best price buying: 1. Know what a legit ticket looks like 2. Buy from your own fan base first 3. The smaller the group the smaller the price--single tickets are cheapest 4. Prices usually peak 1-2 hours before kickoff--inside an hour the closer to game time the cheaper the ticket, right after kickoff they plumment to near nothing 5. A fan walking to the stadium in with a group of friends and still holding extra tickets to sell will usually dump them for a cheap price (they do not want to miss the game and often they are doing a favor for a buddy to sell them) usually you'll spot them holding a finger or two out to their side or over their head or saying selling one, etc... 6. If you have to deal with a professional scalper--NEVER give him what he asks, have a seating chart with you, check to make sure all tickets are really together and for that game, offer him lower and be prepared to walk away, after you turn and walk away more than half the time in my experience they'll give in and take your offer, if you can afford to wait...wait inside 20 minutes to kickoff as see the prices drop (assess the situation for the number of tickets available, how many you need before employing that strategy) 7. Don't be embarrassed to go back to a scalper to buy ticket(s) 10 minutes after you said no to his previous offer 8. Don't fall for their tactics to make you feel like you're ripping them off by "only offering $20 a ticket", etc...they love to play games with your self-image and ego.


Get Rutgers Gear Like This at College Flags and Banners

New to 2010 are great tailgate products offered to my readers...BTW, you get a 10% discount.

College Flags and Banners Co. is the ultimate source for your tailgate. They offer a huge selection of college flags and banners including: Army, Cincinnati, Connecticut, ECU, Louisville, Memphis, Navy, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, USF, and WVU. Plus everything else you need for game day, from tailgating flagpoles and wheel stands to conference pennant sets. All products are officially licensed and ship within 24 hours. Order today and relieve 10% off your order by typing in coupon code "MARK10" at checkout.

If you are looking for more than just college try their sister company.

Other Sports Flags:
Sports Flags and Pennants Co. is the premium source for all of your NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and NASCAR flags and pennants. Fast, secured shipping to your doorstep and all products are officially licensed. Through our site we are offering a coupon code for 10% off your order. Just enter "MARK10" at checkout.

Last Minute Tailgate Supplies

If you need some supplies the day of the game there are a few places. Just a mile east of New Brunswick in Highland Park there is a Stop and Shop at 424 Raritan Ave. A list of liquor stores show alot of choices. If you need more extensive tailgate supplies there are two Wal Marts closeby. One to the north and one to the south.

TAILGATEWIKI--Total Tailgating Resource is designed loosely on the wikipedia concept that anyone with internet access is considered an expert in the field and can contribute their personal knowledge in an online arena. Wikipedia covers all areas whereas Tailgate Wiki focuses on tailgating and improving the game day atmosphere. Because many fans
follow their team when they play on the road, Tailgate Wiki will serve as a resource for those fans to understand what to expect when they get there. Kind of like having a friend in every city, at every stadium, giving you the inside scoop on the best places to park, tailgating policies and much more. This is all user generated content and the goal is to benefit the entire tailgating community.


The Heldrich--New Brunswick's Newest Hotel
Rutgers lacks the close by hotels/motels where you can walk to the game. Some folks will walk from the Heldrich and Hyatt but check out a map first and decide for yourself. Note: Three bridges from east to west allow you to cross the Raritan on foot. 1. The Rt-27 (Albany St. Bridge) goes to Highland Park Borough (pedestrians should turn left (west) at river road and walk though Johnson Park about 1.5 miles to the stadium). 2. The Rt-18 (John Lynch Bridge) goes to Piscataway (There is a pedestrian walkway on this bridge that is part of the inter-campus ped/bikeway system. It leads directly to the Busch tailgating areas near the stadium, and continues to the RAC). 3. The Landing Lane Bridge (there is a pedestrian walkway - Landing Lane leads directly to the South end of Rutgers Stadium. A walkway leads up the hill to the West Gate). Walking is a viable option for those who do not mind a one to two mile walk from New Brunswick.

The Hyatt has a nice advantage because there is a shuttle that leaves in front of their hotel for the game. A new luxury hotel has recently opened in New Brunswick. The Heldrich looks like a nice property and also offers shuttle service.. They are both accessible within a few blocks from the train station and both allow you to stumble home after an evening on the town. If you decide not to stay at the Heldrich or the Hyatt there are a lot of motels within a short drive. They mainly cater to the business traveler. Your best bet is to stay in New Brunswick or the nearby strip of motels. If you want to save some dough $$$, try the Motel 6 chain by the freeways (I-95/287). there are three motels close by and have rooms for under $60. The university has negotiated rates with local motels. I suggest to call and ask if they'll honor the rate on a football weekend. Worst case the link gives you a real nice list of local hotels. Note: Do not stay at the motels listed for the Newark or Camden campuses unless you enjoy driving an hour each way. Another source of hotels near campus lists many hotels that cater to business travelers.

Finally, a few miles NW of New Brunswick is Somerset, NJ. There are a lot of hotels here. If you have your gameday parking figured out this is a great option. The Homewood Suites comes recommended as a great value.

New Brunswick Hyatt

New Brunswick is an urban environment with a nice variety of restaurants, bars, and cafes. These are found primarily along George Street and Easton Avenue near the New Brunswick campus. The Piscataway campuses (where the stadium is located) are isolated from alot of commercial development. It is a 2-3 mile drive from them to Piscataway's retail district found along South Washington and Centennial Avenues and Stelton Road (generally the area near I-287 to the north). Here you will find the usual array of chain restaurants, fast food, supermarkets and big-box stores. Below I'll concentrate on the on local places versus the national chains.


Looking for Rutgers Fan Gear and Tailgating Stuff? Try the non-profit Rutgers Student Co-op oncampus. It has been serving all that is Rutgers since 1939.

A couple large scale malls are nearby. Menlo Park Mall and Brunswick Square Mall should keep your non-football watching spouse happy. Another large mall is the Woodbridge Center. One other suggestion is to wander around the many shops in downtown New Brunswick.

Menlo Park Mall


For classic game day grub, you need to wander down to College Ave and experience the Grease Trucks. Basically these are parked trucks which serve food. It doesn’t sound too appetizing to me, but the students love them.
Grease Truck--->
Stuff Yer Face has a reputation for excellent strombolis and a great selection of beer. Looking for Pizza and Subs--look here they all deliver. Jimmy's Grill has people raving about their Fat Sandwiches. Harold's Offers huge NY Style Deli Sandwiches. Want a great burger? Try Blitzbrger. There is one next to the Olde Queen's Tavern and one in North Brunswick. Want a great dog? Try Tido N His Junk Yard Dogs. Excellent Pizza at a moderate price, try Panico's Brick Oven Pizza.
R.U. Grill and Pizza is also noted for pizza and such. And they offer the famous “Fat Darrell”. Eat at your own risk. Many of the places above are on or near Easton Ave. the main student drag with lots of cheap eats. On Easton Ave try Thomas Sweets Ice Cream and Chocolate it is a local institution.

Fat Darrell (aka Fat Steve)

Fine Dining

New Brunswick has developed a theater district along George Street. George Street has become a street know for upscale dining. If you dine on George Street Old Man Rafferty's and the Harvest Moon Brewery are two of the most reasonably priced places. Both are very popular on game day. Most of the others located on George Street are very upscale.

As mentioned above, Old Man Rafferty's is an excellent American Style Restaurant with a nice menu featuring delicious desserts. Old Man Rafferty's and Stuff Yer Face are very popular on gameday. Other restaurants (some are 4 and 5 star rated fine dining establishments) that come recommended include: Tumulty's (noted for Prime Rib), Harvest Moon (gets overflow from Old Man Rafferty's--very good beer and food Brewery, Old Bay (for cajun), Catherine Lombardi (upscale Italian), Hotoke (Upscale Asian/Sushi) Stage Left (Upscale and Romantic), and The Frog and Peach (Exquisite Upscale Dining). Downtown New Brunswick Downtown New Brunswick offers huge selections of restaurants. Another list here. A nice map overview here of bars. Clydz Martini bar also hosts an upscale restaurant and is a great bar for the post college crowd. Rutgers fan RC1971 sez:
Very close to the Heidrich and a fantastic place. Flexible dress code, from jeans and a tee shirt to slacks and a button down, relaxed but somewhat sophisticated atmosphere, excellent cocktails, attentive staff, usually a fair amount of people. Not much of a "college" bar though.
Additionally he sez:
If someone is looking for a Dive, or to sample some of New Brunswick's local Music Scene, the Court is the way to go, at 124 Church Street (not too far from Clydz in the downtown area). It's a "rough around the edges" type of bar, but it is the heart of the high in tradition new brunswick music scene. Cheap Beers, Dim Lighting (Probably a good thing) and always good music. FWIW, it's my favorite move to spend a swanky first half of the evening at Clydz and then roll straight into the Court.

Bars for the Younger Crowd

For the younger crowd: Olde Queen's Tavern is Rutgers signature student bar. another place with a young crowd is the Olive Branch, (nee: Patty's). The Golden Rail linked below in sports bars is another bar loaded with college students. The Knight Club is another well known bar for the college crowd. A few other places are reviewed here. A list showing other bars shows many places that cater to the students. A few suggestions: Doll Place Restuarant--a restaurant and also a place to meet and mingle. Glo Ultra Lounge looks like it caters to those out of college. Perle is a classic upscale disc jockey dance club. The Corner Tavern is close to the train station. A great place to relax with pool, darts and shuffleboard. Drink prices are reasonable. Finally,a very good website going over all your entertainment options in and around New Brunswick.

Olde Queen's Tavern--A Rutgers Drinking Institution

Sports Bar Alert!

Stuff Yer Face is a great place to watch some games, eat a stromboli and enjoy an extensive beer menu. Houlihans is your classic chain sports bar but very good. It is located on US 1 in New Brunswick. Glass Woods Tavern is an upscale sports bar in the Hyatt. Champps is another sports bar chain. It is located in nearby Edison. It should have ESPN Gameplan. South of town (about 10-15 mins) is Damon's. They are a national chain but are noted for great ribs as well as being a good sports bar.

Consider playing one of these three Middlesex county golf courses, all located close to the Rutgers New Brunswick campus:
Raritan Landing Golf Course
This easy 3,400-yard, par-58 family style golf course, designed by Stephen Kay, opened on October 1, 1999. It is located a short drive from the Rutgers New Brunwick campus. Cost for 18 holes on the weekend for a non resident is about $30 walking (carts are $26). If you don't have much time or are a mediocre golfer, this would be a good choice.
The Meadows at Middlesex Golf Course
The Meadows is an 18-hole, 6,290-yard, par-70 championship course. It is located a short drive from the Rutgers New Brunswick campus. This bent grass golf course was designed by Joe Finger in 1972 and finished in 1980 by world renowned designer Tom Fazio. It features a full-service restaurant, locker rooms and electric carts. Cost for 18 holes on the weekend for a non resident about $35-50 walking (carts are $28).
Tamarack features two 18-hole championship golf courses, both designed by Hal Purdy (who designed a number of course in the Syracuse area, including Foxfire, Pompey Club and Kanon Valley). The East (Gold and Blue) course is a 6,226-yard, par-71 course and the West (Red and White) course is a 7,025-yard, par-72 course. The West course is tougher and is the better choice if you are an advanced golfer.
Tamarack includes a full-service restaurant, locker rooms and electric carts. The driving range features 34 stalls, five target greens and top-of-the-line tees and teepads. Located in East Brunswick, it is a short drive from the Rutgers New Brunswick campus.
The New Jersey State Golf Association rated Tamarack West as the second most-difficult course in Middlesex, Monmouth, Mercer, Somerset and Union Counties. Cost for 18 holes for either course on the weekend for a non resident is about $40 walking (carts are $28). Please note that these courses never close.
Rutgers University Golf Course
Over 6,000 yards in length, the picturesque, tree-lined course is a par 71 and offers a challenging layout with four teeing areas per hole. Like Tamarack, this course was designed by Hal Purdy (who designed a number of courses in the Syracuse area, including Foxfire, Pompey Club and Kanon Valley). Highlights include narrow fairways, fast greens, and water hazards on nine holes. Golf Magazine awarded the course a 4 star rating in 2004.

Rutgers University Golf Course
Cost for 18 holes on the weekend is about $50 walking (golf carts are $30). If you want to play here, get a tee time ASAP. The course is in great demand on football weekends.

Golf and Stay at Crystal Springs A nice resort with multiple golf courses (six signature courses within five miles!) is located about an hour north of New Brunswick in NW New Jersey. Crystal Springs ranks among Golf Digest’s top ten list for public golf courses in New Jersey.

I'd like to thank all the Rutgers fans who helped in making this guide better: Scarlet16E, Jumba72, Upstream, srru86, lawmatt78, Andrew, Randall, RC1971 and several others.

The opinions expressed in this guide are those of TexanMark. While every effort has been made to ensure all the information presented is accurate and current, it would be wise to verify things when possible. Please note that this guide is not endorsed by, or its site publishers, administrators and/or moderators.

Return to TexanMark's Tailgate Guides Main Page