No longer able to profit by charging for parking, teams will want to recoup these losses. Rather than allow ad hoc BYOB festivities that benefit from the surfeit of otherwise unused outdoor space, sports entities could instead choose to reappropriate the space outside the stadium into Fan Zones and profit from the additional concession opportunities. The pre-gaming could continue, but at significantly greater cost to the fan and with a much greater corporate imprint. It’s still eating and drinking before the game, but it lacks the freewheeling, bottom-up spirit of a genuine tailgate.
The tl;dr version is this:
1. land costs money
2. you can make money from land
3. if people are going to come to the game anyway, sports owners don't make any money from tailgating. They have to provide the parking anyway. This is true whether you come to the game by other means, like bike or metro. So, it's definitely possible to tailgate without a car. But that's only because there's space for you to do it.
4. So if technology/society radically changes and they don't have to provide the parking BUT people still want to come to the game early and party, what's a more likely outcome:
- Dan Snyder builds some lovely park space for people to enjoy for free while they cook their own food and drink their own beer?
- Dan Snyder builds some godawful beer garden thing where he can restrict outside food and beverages and charge $12 for a Bud Lite and $16 for a half smoke?
So, yeah. Anyway, far be it from me to mourn the loss of parking lots (we have too many and they are bad in a myriad of ways), but it's always interesting to think about what could/might happen to land that's being used for parking when it isn't used for parking anymore. Generally, the urbanist case response to this is "Good things like more buildings!" but the other side of the coin is "the end of free activities that only can happen because there's a parking lot there, such as tailgating."