The word alone wakes up images of day long parties outside, with barbeque pits, tents, games and drinks flowing. You’re surrounded by rows and rows of cars and folks decked out in the same colors, occupying the space around the stadium which is the weekend’s battleground for their team of choice. However, every one isn’t able to make it out to the game and the ritual festivities that surround it. Whether it’s a road game, living far away from your squad or simply wanting to get some usage out of the massive entertainment center you’ve dropped a month & half worth of your pay on, sometimes the move on game day doesn’t take you far from where you started. Some just as dedicated fans make the space around their TV the place where they take in all of the action on the weekend.

BUT, is this an excuse to not take in on the gameday rite that is tailgating? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

While it’s not the traditional route, the “Homegate” can be arguably more epic than even a plot at the game is. Now I know that may sound blasphemous to some, and it’s understandable that you may feel that way. There’s nothing that matches the atmosphere of game day at the scene of the crime. But does that mean you can’t bring a bit of that home and turn your day around the house into an event that could put even the best tailgate to shame? Once more: ABSOLUTELY NOT.

As a matter of fact, the Homegate has excellent potential to be the most diverse type of game watching event. It can be applied regardless of weather, sport or time. There is no transportation time and when it’s done, no matter what state you may find yourself in, you’re already home. It’s like starting the game in the redzone already.

So what does it take? Is it a matter of just breaking out the BBQ pit in the backyard and bringing a pan of food in? Sure, if you only want for your event to be as exciting as a Monday morning alarm clock. No, it’s about combining the best of both worlds, and putting the kitchen to work just as much as the pit, while creating atmosphere around both. Check it out.

Take it to the Yard
One thing that is not up for change is that BBQ must be at the core of it all, so keep that at the same pace as normal. The advantage of being at home is that there’s not going to be the lurking “Neighbors” who make their way over to the charity of your tent. Hot dogs, brats and hamburgers have to go down first, as they are the appetizers of tailgate eats. Afterwards, kick it up a notch with pork steaks, some fish and beef steaks. If you’re going to cook it up, use the kitchen too. That’s where the bonus of doing it at home pays out.

Take it to the House
Having a kitchen on deck is a major bonus. It brings in a brand new possibility of new eats and drinks. Let your blender be great, and get those fresh margaritas and other frozen delicacies into the mix. Keep a couple of pots on the stove going at all times, including at least one type of chili and some Rotel dip going at all time. Having something come from the kitchen all the time keeps the folks going, whether it’s a big crowd or a small one.

Keep the Atmosphere Right
Just because you’re not at the game doesn’t mean it can’t look like it. Get dressed up in the colors still. If you can afford it (and have an oddly high dedication to your squad…I’m definitely not judging) even throw one of your buddies into a mascot outfit. Make it look like the block party is at your house, and it’s the place to be.

Bring It All Together
In the end, it’s about having fun, so spare no expense and don’t slack on any front. The Homegate can work as easily for a football game, as it does a pay-per-view fight, as it does even for the Westminister Dog Show (once again, not judging). It’s about atmosphere, people, food and doing your part to get into the spirit of the win. No matter whether it’s on the road or an actual home game for YOU.

Matt Whitener is a contributing writer and manager for StLouisSports360.com.

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