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Tailgating at Allegiant Stadium gets corporate twist

Raiders games became known for their pregame tailgating culture in Oakland, a tradition that came with them when they arrived at Allegiant Stadium.

Each home game you can find a mass of fans prepping for the day’s game in multiple parking areas surrounding the stadium. But the most noticeable group congregate at Lot J, where the bulk of the festivities occur.

This year, however, there’s a new twist to the tailgating scene, with the Raiders adding the Modelo Tailgate Zone. Located across Hacienda Avenue on the north side of the stadium, the area debuted during the Raiders’ Week 2 game versus the Arizona Cardinals.

Free to all fans, no game ticket required, the attraction offers a multitude of activities for fans to enjoy before they head inside Allegiant Stadium.

Open four hours prior to kickoff until 30 minutes before game time, there is a massive LED screen and 70-inch TVs where fans can watch early NFL games.

Several beer and cocktail options are offered at various retail stands, with local food trucks offering delicacies from Pinkbox Donuts, El Dogg’s Grill, Cooking with Gas Cajun Cuisine to World’s Best Corndogs.

Fans can get new gear at the Raider Image retail kiosk, take interactive photos with various Silver and Black activations and participate in a variety of tailgate games.

The zone also features Raiders’ partners and giveaways from companies like Modelo, Coca-Cola, Caesars Entertainment, Jack Daniels, Uber and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Junior Hayes, a Raider fan from Bowling Green, Kentucky, said he found out about the tailgate zone ahead of time and is impressed with the layout.

“This is very nice,” Hayes said. “I’ve tailgated with Raider Nation in Nashville and in Indianapolis, and I was really excited about coming here for a home game. It’s everything I thought it would be.”

Hayes, a teacher, made the trek to Las Vegas with his wife while his school district is on break. He’s been to a few Raiders games, including last weekend in Tennessee, and not having to set up the tailgate is a plus for Hayes.

“Having everything centrally localized you can meet more people. … I think this is very good,” Hayes said.

Keith Spear, a Raiders fan from Oklahoma, was at the Modelo Tailgate Zone with his wife, daughter and mother, all taking in their first Raiders game. He said the structured nature of the tailgate, with staff being present, made the area feel like a safer option for the Spears.

“Just some family friendly fun,” Spear said.

Fans in Lot J are more inclined to the old-fashioned, do-it-yourself tailgating and see the Modelo Tailgate Zone as friendly competition. The process and effort it takes to set up a tailgate space is part of the gameday experience for fans like Las Vegas local Derek Baumeister.

“This is more like the true diehards, that’s more of a corporate thing,” Baumeister said. “We’re out here at 9:30, 10 a.m., getting set up and hanging out all the time. … But I guess it’s a way for them (Raiders) to bring in more revenue. … The more the merrier.”

Tailgating in Lot J since last season, Baumeister sees a lot of the same people each week, which makes the experience more personable. “You see them, talk to them and create a bond,” Baumeister said.

Despite traditional tailgating being part of the Raiders’ culture, Hayes said he had no reason to see what Lot J was about with the tailgate zone being an option.

“Everything we need is right here,” he said.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.