Tailgating ahead of Lions games is one of Detroiters' favorite pastimes. Partying at Ford Field (and other venues around the city, for that matter) is a quintessential experience that no visitor should forego, football fan or not. The entire city of Detroit celebrates on game days, but there are a few places in particular that beckon a rowdy bunch.
Tailgating at Ford Field
The most convenient pre-party for those who are actually going to the game is the one held right at the stadium. The Ford Field-sponsored Bud Light Tailgate, located on Brush Street between Montcalm and Adams, is free and open to the public. Game days are enlivened by live music from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and there's plenty of merch for sale if you're in need of a t-shirt or jersey, too.
Crowds begin to form around the entrances of Ford Field around 12:30 p.m., so pack up early and head for the lesser-trafficked west side entrance (the one away from Greektown, that is). There's a laundry list of items that are banned from the stadium, so make sure you read through them to avoid getting turned away at the gate (or, rather, having your purse taken away). Nearby lockers can be rented for a fee, but be sure to drop off your belongings early.
Unlike at the Pontiac Silverdome, where the Lions used to play, parking at Ford Field is limited and fills up quickly. There is a series of small parking lots in and around Foxtown and the Theatre District, but those tend to get packed early as well. Ford Field has a wide variety of food and beverage options but prepare to pay double digits for a beer.
Tailgating at Eastern Market
The buzziest tailgate party in town is actually at Eastern Market, a 10-minute walk from Ford Field. Even game-goers can be found having a beer here before kickoff, seeing as convenient shuttles run to and from the stadium continuously. There's typically a live band and an abundance of food to help elevate spirits before game time.
Parking is available at Eastern Market for a fee and hosting a tailgate party is an extra expense. Party hosts must purchase a tailgate pass in addition to an extra parking spot, if needed.
Other Parking Lot Parties
After Michigan's Blue Law—which restricted the sale of alcohol on Sundays—changed in 2010, more of Detroit's downtown parking lots became temporary venues for Lions game pre-parties. Parking fees can vary from $10 to $40, depending on how far the lot is from Ford Field, and can increase on special game days like Opening Day or rivalry games. Many lots stagger cars to allow for tailgating and early exits. Tailgating is not allowed in any parking structure. If you intend to park and not tailgate, consider parking at the nearby casinos for free.