vs. Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions Stadium
October 5, 2014
17 - 14 Loss
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Capacity: 65,000 seats
Playing Surface: FieldTurf
Draft Beer: $8.75
Hot Dog: $6.00
Stadium Parking: $20-$50
2000 Brush Street
Detroit, MI 48226
Stadium Review - Eastern Market Tailgating in the Motor City
Detroit, Michigan remains an active hub of American automotive innovation and is still home to that familiar Motown sound. In recent years, the economic recession has hit hard, but the city of Detroit continues to press on. Its residents remain optimistic that things will turn around and the vibe throughout the area is a positive one. With the Lions on the rebound, fans finally have a product on the field that is deserving of their unwavering support and it’s here, in the Motor City, that this Buffalo Bills fan has finally made a home.
My Detroit Lions adventure actually began in the city of Mount Clemens, MI, an area that was once famous as a vacation spot during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, due to the healing power of its mineral baths. Guided by Detroit Lions Superfan, Ron “Crackman” Crachiola, a contingent of Buffalo Bills fans were taken off the beaten path to explore an old prohibition era hot spot that still stands today. So our Mount Clemens pub crawl began at Frank’s Eastside Tavern. One of the area’s best kept secrets, this basement speakeasy was actually built under an old farm house that still stands today. Getting a drink there is like finding that elusive New York City bar that requires a password and a secret handshake to enter. The bar is small, but that’s actually part of its charm. Patrons are quickly introduced to their neighbors as communal conversations are the norm in these cramped quarters. They actually pack in live bands on the weekends and if the party gets too loud for the old man living upstairs, Frank has no qualms about clearing out the bar before closing time and kicking everybody out. This all happens in a space that measures 15' x 30' ...
Gameday means an early start in the Motor City as your true gamers gather at the Eastern Market. A famers market with a host of fresh produce and flowers throughout the week, this six block area really comes alive on gameday as tailgaters invade to take over the lots. Your standard 10x10 tailgate tent city is erected before eight in the morning with grills and coolers ready for a full day of tailgating.
When I’m in town to watch the Lions (or my Buffalo Bills in this case), I’m never far from two of my favorite Motown Tailgates, Vic and Gina’s Tailgaters and the Tubgaters helmed by Denny, Jerry, Mickey and Dave. Located directly across from each other, both groups really bring their “A” game to represent the D. Flanked by several trucks and a tow-in BBQ pit, The Tailgaters bring a solid menu that’s usually themed for every tailgate. Protected from the harsh winds as well as the elements within their own personal tent city, this crew of tailgaters spends the morning eating and drinking an impressive variety of foodstuffs. While their DJ spins music throughout the morning, for those that want to hang out during the game, it’s projected on one of the 10x10 tent side panels. There are several folks that are simply drawn to the tailgate and rarely actually attend the game.
The Tubgaters have been an institution in Detroit Rock City since the days of the Pontiac Silverdome. Towing in a hot tub for every tailgate might be a logistical nightmare to some, but these guys have got it down to a science. Their day begins in the wee hours of the early morning as the tub is filled with boiling hot water and colored Honolulu Blue. It is then covered with a thermal shroud and trailered in. To keep the water warm on site, it’s circulated through a copper tube while a kerosene bullet heater is aimed at the coil to reheat the water. Let me tell you my friends, there’s nothing like Tubgatin’ in the Motor City on a balmy winter morning as you watch steam slowly rise off those warm Honolulu blue waters. The Tubgaters always draw a large crowd as your regulars take a dip, beer in hand, flanked by onlookers, well wishers, and those that pine for the plunge. Tubgaters, I salute you!
With the Bills in town, a strong contingent of Buffalo Bills fans were also in attendance, led by western New York legend Kenny “Pinto Ron” Johnson. Kenny is famous for his unique brand of tailgating in the Hammer Lot, located across the street from Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo. Kenny and his blacktop culinarians prefer the use of hand tools and garden implements for food preparation over your more traditional pots, pans and charcoal grills. Oh, and all of his food is cooked on the hood of his 1981 Red Ford Pinto. For Detroit, Kenny didn’t drive the Pinto to town, but he still served up bowling ball shots, chicken wings deep fried in an old army helmet, and satellite dish quesadillas (I’m was told they’re “outta this world”). See my Buffalo Bills Review for a full account of what a Red Pinto Tailgate is all about.
Gametime was upon us before we knew it, and with Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone’s decision to bench quarterback EJ Manuel and instead start wily veteran Kyle Orton, I was ready to see these new-look Bills in person. My daughter, Annabella joined me for the game, but refused to wear Bills colors in support of our team. Her defection, wearing a Honolulu Blue Matt Stafford jersey, meant that by the end of the day, one of us would be eating crow.
The Bills played an awful first half of football and found themselves trailing 14-3 at halftime after an ill-timed Pick-6 that put the Lions in the driver’s seat. Then something strange happened, the Buffalo Bills offense began to methodically move the ball and put points on the board. The defense remained dominant, registering six sacks on the day and holding the Lions offense to a single touchdown. Even when things looked their bleakest, as cornerback Nickell Robey was burned on a long gain late in the fourth quarter, the football gods shined on Buffalo, as the Lions 50-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left with 21 seconds remaining. The team that always seems to manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, capped an improbable comeback with a 58-yard field goal by Bills kicker Dan Carpenter to win the game with only four seconds left on the clock.
For more information on the city of Detroit, MI check out my other reviews by clicking on the links below:
NFL: October 28, 2012 - Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions
NFL: October 11, 2009 - Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Detroit Lions
NFL: October 26, 2008 - Washington Redskins vs. Detroit Lions
NFL: October 15, 2006 - Buffalo Bills vs. Detroit Lions
NBA: Detroit Pistons, Palace of Auburn Hills - General Information
NHL: April 9, 2009 - Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings
NHL: Detroit Red Wings, Joe Louis Arena - General Information
|City of Detroit Local Information|
Top Tourist Attractions:
Henry Ford Museum / Greenfield Village
Motown Records Historical Museum
National Coney Island Hot Dogs, Michigan Cherry Salad, Middle Eastern Cuisine, Pasties, Mackinac Island Fudge, Sanders Bumpy Cake
What They're Drinkin':
Miller Lite, Bud Lite, Bell's Oberon Ale
Lot 1 Eastern Market
Detroit Lions Pre-Game Tailgate on Brush Street
Pocket Map of Detroit
Stadium Parking Map
Fan Forum: The Lions Fanatics.com
Local Sports Media:
Detroit Free Press
97.1FM The Ticket
Downtown (Old Shillelagh, Detroit Pub, Town Pump Tavern, Foran's,
Centaur, Cliff Bell's)
Royal Oak (Luna, Royal Oak Brewery, Gusoline Alley, Mr. B's)
Pontiac (Liberty Bar, Green Tavern, Sevin Night Club, Tonic, Tiki Bobs, JD's
Key Club, Mill Street Grill)
Mount Clemens (Emerald, The Bank, Orleans, Your Mother's)
Hockey Town Cafe (Sports Bar & Food)
Bad Brad's BBQ (Best BBQ in the City)
Pizza Papalis (Local Pizza)
Fishbones (Creole, Cajun)
Pegasus Taverna (Greek)
Bangkok Cuisine (Thai Food)
Getting to the Stadium:
Ford Field is located in the heart of Downtown Detroit. There are many ways to get to the stadium. It's a 10-15 minute walk from the Eastern Market where the best tailgating is going on. Some folks park in Greek Town and take the People Mover monorail to the stadium. There really isn't one great big parking lot. Most people park in lots all over the city and walk to the stadium.
Where To Stay:
Detroit’s downtown area is filled with museums, waterfront, history and an excellent nightlife. Be sure to stay downtown and stay central to the action. I would suggest staying at the Ramada Inn Downtown Detroit or the Crowne Plaza Hotel Pontchartrain Detroit. The Westin Cadillac and the Holiday Inn Express are also both excellent hotel choices.
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Forward down the field,
A charging team that will not yield.
And when the Blue and Silver wave,
Stand and cheer the brave.
Rah, Rah, Rah.
Go hard, win the game.
With honor you will keep your fame. Down the field and gain,
A Lion victory!
|Marion, Brian, Annabella, and I||Quest for 31 Flag in the Eastern Market||Joanie, Kenny, Crackman, and Cap Buffalo|
|Tubgatin' in the D||Detroit Lions Cheerleaders||Captain Buffalo - Satellite Dish Quesadillas|
|Myself, Annabella, Cheryl, Mike and Joanie||Andrew and Peter from USRT||Myself and Gris post game|
Please feel free to post any suggestions or comments you might have for my journey to Ford Field, including the following:
- Local Hotspots (Bar Districts, Restaurants, Clubs)
- Local Foods (Traditional Cuisine, Micro Brews)
- Tailgating Traditions
- Your Experiences or Helpful Hints
- If you saw me let me know!
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