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    Tailgating Flames Cooling This Season: Weber Study

    High cost of fuel, food event ticket prices putting a damper on parking lot parties.

    While one-third of Americans are hoping they get a chance to host a tailgate party this season, their interest in parking lot partying is on the decline, according to the national 2008 Weber Tailgating Study, which found 29 percent of folks saying they hope to do "some" tailgating in the next 12 months compared to 37 percent last year.

    When specifically surveying tailgaters -- defined as those who tailgated at least twice in the past year -- 27 percent cited the "rising cost of fuel" as the top-ranked reason they intend to host fewer tailgates in the coming year. The "rising cost of game or event ticket prices" ranked in second place, at 18 percent, while 17 percent respondents reported that they "aren't planning on having season tickets" this year. "Rising cost of food," meanwhile, came in as the fourth top reason among 14 percent.

    However, overall tailgating news is positive for grill manufacturers and sports fans with game tickets, according to the study, which found that grilling has become significantly more popular among tailgaters -- with 68 percent now "always grilling" at their parties vs. 57 percent in 2005. In addition, 90 percent consider grilling to be an important part of the tailgater, with 57 percent of those responding that it's "extremely important."

    Other highlights of the 2008 Tailgating Study by the Palatine, Ill.-based Weber: 21 percent of tailgaters plan on hosting more tailgates in the next year compared to 14 percent of tailgaters who plan on hosting fewer. Among those planning to host more, their top four reasons are: preferring "tailgating food over stadium restaurant/concession food" (24 percent); going to "more sporting events" (23 percent); being "more interested in tailgating" (16 percent); and responding that "tailgate food costs less than stadium restaurant/concession food" (15 percent).

    The top four favorite foods to grill during a tailgate -- no surprise here -- are hamburgers, at No. 1 (57 percent), followed by brats or sausages (42 percent), chicken (39 percent), and steak (39 percent). However, the study found several emerging trends in the parking lot spurred on by the desire for a healthier lifestyle. Indeed, 44 percent of respondents said they are grilling more veggies; 36 percent are grilling leaner meats; 31 percent are grilling more poultry; and 20 percent said they're grilling more fish.

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