First-timers’ guide to tailgating

First-timers’ guide to tailgating

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You pay to park before games at Blackbaud, but some fans make a point of getting the most out of their parking dollar. The question for the rest of us is, How do I get up with those guys?

For The Regiment, the most prominent tailgating crew at the stadium, the answer boils down to: Show up.

And if you’re really nervous about making a good first impression? “Bring beer,” said Regiment board members attending their most recent meeting, held each month at Madra Rua Summerville.

The Regiment is the Battery’s official supporter’s group, which means they get some match-day perks — like the right to store their grill at the stadium. Turning the pre-game into a party is a tradition the members fund out of their own wallets, but the board members say that shouldn’t make newcomers feel uncomfortable. You don’t have to be a member to join their tailgate. You don’t have to know anyone in the group. Just show up, say hi, and help yourself to some food and a beer.

Menus for Regiment tailgates vary, ranging from hotdogs to venision. British members of the group occasionally make curries, although this is sometimes frowned upon “because curries bring rain.” Generally the group provides a protein and encourages its members to bring side dishes

The Regiment sets up in the parking area near the East Stands, which is tailgate central for Battery matches. With multiple parties set up within close proximity, there’s usually plenty of cross-polination, and usually some conversation with traveling fans of the visiting club.

Mike Buytas, Regiment president, says he tries to get to the stadium by 2:30 for Carolina Challenge Cup nights (for regular season matches, 4:30 to 5). He usually starts the grilling with something quick, like hot dogs or sausages, then moves on to meats that take longer to cook. For the first tailgate of the season, he’ll be cooking pork tenderloins on Saturday.

Members typically bring their own beer, which is separated into two categories: The stuff they bring to drink, segregated into private coolers, and the stuff they bring to share, which goes into the 55-gallon “community cooler.” If it’s in the community cooler, it’s fair game.

“If you want something for yourself,” Buytas said, “don’t put it in the white cooler.”

PHOTO: Kim Morgan Gregory Photography at www.KimMorganGregory.com.