The Rutgers Scarlet Knights have their eyes on a return to glory in the third year of the return of coach Greg Schiano. And fans who take part in tailgating at Rutgers are looking forward to the return of pre-game celebrating in one of the most unique, thriving environments in college football.
In this guide, we’ll direct you on the ins and outs of Saturday game days in New Jersey, along with some tips on how to make the most out of tailgating service at Rutgers.
Before Game Day
Scarlet Knights 2022 Home Schedule
- Sept. 10 – Wagner
- Sept. 24 – Iowa
- Oct. 7 – Nebraska
- Oct. 22 – Indiana
- Nov. 5 – Michigan
- Nov. 19 – Penn State
Rutgers’ online ticket site sells season tickets, 3-game plans, and single-day seats. Whatever games you select, get tickets well in advance. SHI Stadium will be back to full capacity, and Scarlet Knights fans will be anxious to get back into the stands.
Travel, Accommodations, and Transportation
Rutgers University is in New Jersey, situated across two towns: New Brunswick and Piscataway (SHI Stadium sits in the latter). Here are directions on how to get there and options for lodging.
Traveling to New Brunswick/Piscataway
Driving: Interstate 287 is the main thoroughfare serving Rutgers. In addition, road travelers may take the New Jersey Turnpike, I-95, or US Route 22 to get to the area, depending on where they’re coming from.
Air Travel: New Brunswick and Piscataway are easily accessible to no fewer than four major airports, and they’re all solid options: Newark (EWR), both New York airports (JFK and LGA), and Philadelphia (PHL). For what it’s worth, the University recommends Newark because it’s closest and easiest. Between them, the other three take in flights from pretty much the entire world.
Rail: New Brunswick Station, near Rutgers’ College Avenue Campus, services three Amtrak routes and the NJ Transit line.
Nearby Hotels and Accommodations
Rutgers is surrounded by hotels. There are a plethora of them in New Brunswick and Piscataway. The ones closest to SHI Stadium are in New Brunswick: Hyatt Regency, Home2 Suites, and the almost castle-like Heldrich Hotel. There are many other options for all budgets around the perimeter of the University — just check out TripAdvisor’s suggestions.
Guests who are bringing their own tailgating rigs will want to stay in a place that can accommodate all their gear (the ones mentioned above may not be the best ideas in this case). Find a motor inn or residential Airbnb rental if you’re hosting your own tailgate at Rutgers. Another option? Explore tailgate equipment rentals!
Getting to SHI Stadium
Rutgers recommends hopping on NJ Transit to New Brunswick Station and taking the free shuttle to SHI Stadium. Bus routes 810 and 818 also stop close to the stadium.
How to Tailgate at Rutgers
There’s something very special about tailgating at Rutgers. Since it’s located within one of the most densely populated areas in the U.S., there are many diverse and interesting options for game-day celebrations. Here’s how to tailgate like the Scarlet Knight faithful.
Where to Tailgate at Rutgers
Rutgers allows tailgating at all their public parking lots, which open 5 hours before kickoff Your best bet is to score a season-long pass since that gives you a dependable spot closer to the stadium every week.
Alternatively, you can get a day pass for the Livingston/Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC), College Avenue, and Biomedical and Health Science campuses. Livingston/RAC day passes are $25; the other two are $20. It’s cash only.
The RAC Lot is the center of Rutgers tailgating — your visit probably won’t be complete unless you stop by. It’s also the only lot that can accommodate RVs. They can park overnight at RAC for $150 if they arrive on Friday, or just on Saturday for $100. Since it’s the only RV park at the University, it’s best to get there as early as you possibly can to get a spot.
Block R Party
Rutgers throws their own tailgate party for those avoiding the parking lots (and the work). It’s at the north end of the stadium and features everything you could want from a college-sponsored tailgate. There’s a beer garden, live music, a lot of food, live music, contests, trivia, and appearances from the marching band and spirit squads.
Rutgers Kids’ Zone
If you’re coming with your family (or have somehow developed an aversion to beer), you might find the Rutgers Kids’ Zone is an appropriate place for family-friendly tailgating. It’s got rides and entertainment to keep you and your kids amused until the game starts. It opens two-and-a-half hours before kickoff.
Tailgating at Rutgers: Rules
Rutgers has some regulations and guidelines regarding tailgating, including:
- Tailgating confined to the area immediately around your dinner
- Traffic ways and parking spaces can’t be blocked
- No kegs or beer balls
- Tents must be no larger than 10’ x 10’
- No open flames, except in approved grills
See more rules for tailgating at Rutgers on the University’s parking policy page.
Tailgating at Rutgers: Traditions
Some of the time-honored customs that every tailgater at Rutgers must make time for include the following.
The Rutgers team bus arrives two hours before game time at the north end of the stadium. The marching band, cheerleaders, and fans form a human tunnel leading to the stadium entrance. Players and coaches then embark on a purposeful walk through the tunnel, accepting handshakes and compliments from the fans, until they make it to the locker room. Mission accomplished.
First Game Statue
This is a real piece of football lore: The spot where legend has it, the first football game in America — ever, by anyone — was played, between Rutgers and Princeton. It’s believed, or at least assumed, that touching the statue before the game will bring some measure of luck to the Scarlet Knights. Science has not yet confirmed this theory, but it’s a nice ritual anyway.
Off-Campus Drinks and Food
New Brunswick and Piscataway offer tons of options for eating and drinking off-campus on game day. You’re sure to find a suitable spot to watch the game with other Scarlet Knights fans, and maybe a foe or two.
Bars Near SHI Stadium
New Brunswick is crawling with bars across the Raritan River from the stadium. Scarlet Pub has catered directly to Rutgers students and alumni since 1959. Ale ’N Wich Pub has a long, interesting history and has been a local destination for nearly 50 years. Blackthorn is an Irish pub and restaurant with outside seating and a stage.
For more bar options, check out Google Maps’ recommendations for bars near Rutgers.
Restaurants Near SHI Stadium
New Brunswick has a wealth of good restaurants. Near the corner of Albany and George, you’ll find local staples like Old Man Rafferty’s, Steakhouse 85, Clydz, and Ramen Nagomi. Up the street on Easton Avenue you’ll find Sahara, Efes Mediterranean Grill, and the subtly-named stromboli joint Stuff Yer Face.
Rutgers Gameday Gear
With the new season fast approaching, it’s time to get some new Rutgers gameday gear to a rep at your tailgate.
These Rawlings tailgate chairs are great – can be used not only for your tailgate but backyard BBQs, camping trips, and more. You can find them here.
Or if you’re all set with your tailgate equipment, you could not use a new hat. Here’s a go-to for Rutgers fans linked here.
For all things attire Fanatics: Rutgers is a great place to start. They have something for every member of the family. Be sure to only buy when they have promotions running, which is quite often!
Fanatics also has a fun Rutgers: Tailgate & Party section that has cute decorations, car decals, and tailgate games. Outside of cornhole (bags) games, I’d stick to Amazon for your bigger tailgate items like tents, tables, chairs, etc. Or your actual team’s bookstore.
Rutgers has a special place in the history of American football. Tailgating at Rutgers is a way to celebrate that tradition, whether you’re cheering for the Scarlet Knights or their opponents.
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