Financial Health
September 7, 2022

Fans will meet rising tailgating costs this football season

The prices of gasoline, airfare, propane, and food are all up double-digits from 2021.

Seven people in the back of a pickup truck are cheering for their favorite football team.
Rising costs don’t have to take all the fun out of tailgating this season.

Schools across the country are open, temperatures are ever-so-slightly cooling down, and the start of fall is just around the corner. For its fans and the enormous economy surrounding it, this time of year means one thing above all else — football is back. College football kicked off in earnest on Sept. 3, while the professional season begins on Sept. 8. And with the return of America’s most popular sport comes tailgating.

These pregame parking lot parties known for fans, food, and fun could look a little different this year due to inflation, according to a recently released Wells Fargo economics report.

“Fans coming back this season are dealing with some of the fastest inflation seen in decades,” said Michael Pugliese, co-author of the report and an economist at Wells Fargo.

July’s consumer prices rose 8.5% from a year earlier, according to the Labor Department's Consumer Price Index. The price of tailgate staples like propane, chicken, cheese, pickles, and buns is up year-over-year by at least 14%.

An image of a bus reads ‘1. Take public transportation to the game.’; An image of three people tailgating reads ‘2. Pick pork, hot dogs, and veggies for the grill.’; An image of three people watching football on TV reads ‘3. Watch the game from home
The report offers several suggestions for cutting rising tailgating costs.

Gasoline and airfare prices have exploded year-over-year, with gas up 44% and airfare 28%.

“Travel costs are likely going to be the biggest pain point of this year’s tailgating festivities,” Pugliese said. “Despite some recent relief, gasoline tops our list of factors pushing up tailgating inflation.”

Still, things like televisions, cable/satellite packages, game tickets, and hotels/lodging have either had slower inflation or had prices fall year-over-year.

“We haven’t seen inflation this high in 40 years,” said Pugliese. “It wasn’t uncommon in the intervening 40 years for a one-off event to happen to cause it to shoot up. What’s uncommon about right now is we have so many inflationary events happening simultaneously. That’s one thing I found interesting — the experience of inflation and increased cost can vary dramatically depending on what items we’re talking about.”

Pugliese suggested a variety of ways fans can shift away from high inflation items and still host great tailgates.

“If routes allow, game-goers should opt for mass transit, where prices are up a paltry 0.5%,” he said. “Pork ribs might be a more palatable option (than chicken) having risen a less-severe 1.6% year-over-year. And adding some fresh fruit and vegetables to the mix can bring down the average rise in food costs, as prices are up only mid-single digits year-over-year.”

The report is compiled with data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Wells Fargo Economics Group, and football team marketing reports.