Elton John concertgoers upset after tailgating shutdown

— Kim Victor laughed when a security guard told her group of friends to pack up the Perrier with lime, deviled eggs, quinoa salad and birthday cake she brought for a tailgate before last week's Elton John concert at Germain Arena. She thought he was kidding.

"He said, 'I'm serious, I'm telling you because the cops are going to come,'" Victor said. "And a half-hour later, a cruiser pulled up!"

Victor was still laughing about it this week. She and others who were upset to have their preconcert plans cut short by security on March 13 say they've never had problems in the past. In fact, tailgating was widespread in the parking lot before Zac Brown Band played in January, and involved more than Perrier and salad. And, with country star Eric Church set to perform Thursday, many are left wondering what the rules are.

Germain President Craig Brush said the arena has had a no tailgating policy for 14 years. But banning Perrier?

"It's very hard to control. Someone could say they're drinking Perrier, and it's straight gin," Brush said. "If someone drinks a six-pack of beer outside, and then comes and buys one beer from us, and goes out, has an accident and kills somebody, who do you think is liable? Our policy is not to allow it."

The arena's website cites a county ordinance, which Brush also mentioned, as behind the tailgating ban. Joan LaGuardia, a spokeswoman for Lee County, said there is no specific land development code dealing with tailgating, but the arena's original zoning resolution puts limits on outdoor alcohol consumption and the use of parking for events.

Under the zoning resolution, alcohol sale and consumption is limited to a roped-off area outside the main doors as part of outdoor entertainment offered before hockey games. To exceed those limits, LaGuardia said, arena managers are required to apply for temporary use permits — which Brush said is done "when it makes sense." Like before Zac Brown Band played. The country group tailgates with fans before each show.

Generally, LaGuardia said, facilities that offer refreshments indoors "discourage widespread tailgating in favor of their own vending, as well as to discourage problems with drinking and partying outdoors."

Enforcement varies, but many facilities are tolerant of orderly, family-style tailgating, she said.

That may not have been the case before Elton John's performance. Because security personnel cannot be everywhere, Brush said, they can only deal with what they see.

That included Jeff Siwicke, who sat in the parking lot about an hour before Elton John was to take the stage, enjoying a Publix sandwich and conversation with a few other fans huddled around a small folding table — until a security guard told them to "shut it down." Surprised, his girlfriend's mother asked if she could finish her sandwich.

"It was me and a bunch of old folks sitting around," said Siwicke, who is 37 and was accompanied by his girlfriend, her parents and his mother. "We're like, 'Why are these guys wasting their time and effort on us?'"

Victor, who brought a tablecloth and candle and put the Perrier on ice to make the setup look nice ("because hey, it was Elton John — you don't eat chicken wings before Elton John,") offered food to others in the parking lot and stuffed the leftovers into her car. She's since told her friends who are going to see Eric Church that they shouldn't bother bringing food.

Both Siwicke and Victor said Elton John didn't disappoint — they enjoyed the show.

And afterward, Victor pulled out the birthday cake and sang "Happy Birthday" to her friends. This time, nobody stopped them.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 29

No1Uno writes:

Too many rules, and they wonder why they can never sell out more shows.

The worst is when they had a B-Day for Swampy and had cake, but then the kids couldn't take their cake back to our seats at the suite, so we had to dump it in the trash can. You can't take a beer from one area to another, the list goes on and on.

No more Germain Arena for me, I rather drive to Miami or Tampa...

OddsMaker (Inactive) writes:

Over Criminalization - get used to it. With the path our government is on, if you are not breaking a law right now, you soon will be.

Robertofnaples writes:

Hey this rent-a-cop was upholding justice here. I would have said "bite me barney" and continued. If this is a true policy and only enforced on a whim; there is reason to question the policy. I expect now, the managment at Germain will try and figure a way out of this s----- policy. No tailgating is Un-American and surely will harm future gate revenues here. With that said, I agree that I won't go there until it has been corrected.

Throat_Yogurt writes:

Parrotheads will bow down to no one when it comes to tailgating! Take what you can and give nothing back!!!

GorgonZola writes:

When an outfit like Germain sticks attendees with parking charges on top of expensive tickets, you know it's about GREED. They all but pat you down and demand women open handbags to see if they are carrying water. My wife refused after she saw one guard put his hand, uninvited, in a woman's handbag and removed water. Why should they let you bring in a 99¢ bottle if they can stick you for $2.50? This isn't about the performer or anything but Germain arena and how it is run -- as commented by all the yahoos who bring up political nonsense for no related reason and just want to see themselves in print (YAWN), but it is a good reason to think twice before you purchase a vehicle and increase Germain income.

Coastal writes:

Glorified ice rink.

Not someplace I’m in a hurry to go to. And who signed off on that impossible to read bright sign? It’s too small and flashes too fast, very distracting and a traffic hazard. Someone is going to wreck trying to read that thing.

naples15 writes:

in response to GorgonZola:

When an outfit like Germain sticks attendees with parking charges on top of expensive tickets, you know it's about GREED. They all but pat you down and demand women open handbags to see if they are carrying water. My wife refused after she saw one guard put his hand, uninvited, in a woman's handbag and removed water. Why should they let you bring in a 99¢ bottle if they can stick you for $2.50? This isn't about the performer or anything but Germain arena and how it is run -- as commented by all the yahoos who bring up political nonsense for no related reason and just want to see themselves in print (YAWN), but it is a good reason to think twice before you purchase a vehicle and increase Germain income.

Bob Germain does not own the arena. He only pays to have his name on it for advertising for his car dealerships. Do you think Jet Blue owns the new Red Sox stadium too.

wes writes:

in response to Coastal:

Glorified ice rink.

Not someplace I’m in a hurry to go to. And who signed off on that impossible to read bright sign? It’s too small and flashes too fast, very distracting and a traffic hazard. Someone is going to wreck trying to read that thing.

First and foremost this arena is a really nice facility to watch and play hockey.

But the obnoxious 'car dealer' sign on the interstate should be a zoning violation and is low class.

Banker26 writes:

Just buy the CD, it's easier. I've been told I couldn't bring gatorade out on a golf course before. I wonder if he was ever able to pull my wedge out of there?

drolds writes:

in response to 2ndAmendment:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Looks like you've been out gunned. The First Amendment made you disapear.

LovesBS writes:

How does something like this happening in 3rd world SWFL? Jeezzz, most people are armed, drugged or boozed up...so what already? Why worry?

Of course it's all about money...the stadium wants to sell the juice and overpriced food.

Simple solution if management wants to dampen the fun...just don't go!

beerbong writes:

The no tailgating policy has been in place 14 years. This is the first I have heard of it.

Trunk_Monkey writes:

Those types of events are strictly for the purpose of making as much money as possible. You know that going in and they are going to burn you at every opportunity. I avoid events like that.

itmattershere writes:

And this is why I stay home. No problem here. I will keep my money.

brighteyes writes:

in response to slogoodland:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I remember the Hollywood Sportatorium. I saw Fog Hat there back in 1976. I was not ( and still am not) a pot smoker. I think I got high on the second hand smoke. Those were the days.

naples_rocket writes:

Couple of years ago I went to Germain for the first time. Paid arm and leg. When I was pulling in, there were two dudes standing with hand made paper sign "Parking $5", collecting cash, putting in their pockets!! WTH! I told them that I've got no cash. Same trick has worked ever since :) Should stop supporting that place though. Do they have any kind of accounting for that nice parking gig?

SMILES writes:

in response to GorgonZola:

When an outfit like Germain sticks attendees with parking charges on top of expensive tickets, you know it's about GREED. They all but pat you down and demand women open handbags to see if they are carrying water. My wife refused after she saw one guard put his hand, uninvited, in a woman's handbag and removed water. Why should they let you bring in a 99¢ bottle if they can stick you for $2.50? This isn't about the performer or anything but Germain arena and how it is run -- as commented by all the yahoos who bring up political nonsense for no related reason and just want to see themselves in print (YAWN), but it is a good reason to think twice before you purchase a vehicle and increase Germain income.

I won't ever go to Germain Arena or buy a car with Germain anywhere nearby. I tried to buy a couple of cars there & was treated shabbily, as my witness can attest. I had cash(over $30,000.) when I went back to pay for the car I spent 3 days dealing on. They jacked me around, made my friend miss a transatlantic conference call, & tried to block my exit from the little office they sent a "closer" in to finish the deal with me. He started all over, tacked on $2200.00 for a cargo net & floor mats, & I got up to walk out. He ran around the desk & blocked my exit. I nearly decked him. Had he said even one more word to me, he would have been clutching a very sore area behind a zipper. I will NEVER set foot in another dealership with the name Germain on it in ANY state. I didn't buy any of my cars in Naples. I couldn't get anyone to give me the time of day. I bought 2 cars over the Internet & would easily do it again. One I ordered so could have the features I wanted. I love both of those cars.

Here4Now writes:

I was there. That place was tailgate city - more tailgate parties than a Pgh. Steelers game!!! And, it was all GREAT, nice, friendly, calm, respectful - geesh, get the big bug out of your behinds, Germain.

NoBS writes:

What crime is it to have a beer in the parking lot before?

I though America was the land of the free? Obviously NOT. Nazi Germany did not have restrictions on where you could drink a beer.

More of an over regulated society.

AssyMcGee writes:

Security won't be so quick to correct the Godsmack fans next month. Picking on Elton fans is easy. And if this was a rap show, most of security would have called in sick.

ntmestero writes:

My company had leased a suite at Germain for several years. I took my 3 year old boy to a Disney production there. Not knowing what kind of catering had been arranged, I grabbed him a hot dog in the main concourse and proceeded to the elevator to access our suite. The elevator attendant refused to let us up to the suite with the hot dog. Rather than argue with the attendant who was clearly following strict orders, I took my son into the Germain arena business office where the above mentioned Mr. Brush's assistant explained that he would not bend the rule for my 3 year old, but that we could throw away our purchase and buy a hot dog through the suite caterer once we got up there. My son ate his hot dog in their business office while the receptionist glared at me like I was abusing the boy. Once I got to the suite, I found that I could have, in fact, purchased a hot dog for nearly twice what they charged me on the first floor. Thus their motivation. My company no longer purchases that suite and to this day, Germain arena has no reason why.

Only-Real writes:

in response to SMILES:

I won't ever go to Germain Arena or buy a car with Germain anywhere nearby. I tried to buy a couple of cars there & was treated shabbily, as my witness can attest. I had cash(over $30,000.) when I went back to pay for the car I spent 3 days dealing on. They jacked me around, made my friend miss a transatlantic conference call, & tried to block my exit from the little office they sent a "closer" in to finish the deal with me. He started all over, tacked on $2200.00 for a cargo net & floor mats, & I got up to walk out. He ran around the desk & blocked my exit. I nearly decked him. Had he said even one more word to me, he would have been clutching a very sore area behind a zipper. I will NEVER set foot in another dealership with the name Germain on it in ANY state. I didn't buy any of my cars in Naples. I couldn't get anyone to give me the time of day. I bought 2 cars over the Internet & would easily do it again. One I ordered so could have the features I wanted. I love both of those cars.

Sounds like you were a real pleasure to deal with. I find your story a wee bit fishy. Why would it take you 3 days dealing with a purchase. Especially cash.

Notthesame writes:

Germain dealerships have always been hard to deal with just like Tamiami Ford, greeedy owners, go up the road save a couple thousand.

Gifted1 writes:

Well, now we know. Elton John fans are the biggest whiners. I thought Elton would be the only one in a skirt that night........

smileykimber writes:

well, two things were never answered. Where it is posted so that we would have known. The reason that they gave was untrue. They allow you to drink as many beers as posssible inside so the liability issue is false. I think they are indeed the ONLY arena that bans tailgating that we have ever heard of! greed is the real reason. we all paid 150 a ticket and 10 bucks to park was it really a problem to have a little get together before....we still had 3 and a half hours inside which we bought drinks during. I saw a guy next to me pound 6 beers while elton performed... I think his wife forced him to come! ya gotta laugh!

Niki_6 writes:

Aren't most EJ fans children of the era when they flipped off the "man"? Nice seeing that old age makes pussywillows out of people who are too afraid to stand up for themselves. If the cops really came to test my Perrier for gin, I'd report them for wasting my tax dollars and harrassment. So if I'm drinking a Perrier in my car, they can pull me over because it may be gin?! I thought I lived in FLA, not mother Russia.

bananas8187 writes:

in response to smileykimber:

well, two things were never answered. Where it is posted so that we would have known. The reason that they gave was untrue. They allow you to drink as many beers as posssible inside so the liability issue is false. I think they are indeed the ONLY arena that bans tailgating that we have ever heard of! greed is the real reason. we all paid 150 a ticket and 10 bucks to park was it really a problem to have a little get together before....we still had 3 and a half hours inside which we bought drinks during. I saw a guy next to me pound 6 beers while elton performed... I think his wife forced him to come! ya gotta laugh!

$150 bucks a ticket? For that? You gotta be kidding.

The man should be arrested for loitering in front of a piano.

I used to think he wrote his music, so respected his writing ability, in spite of his crap voice.

Then I found out he ain't no Billy Joel, Neil Sadaka or Barry Manilow. He can't write music and he can't sing either!

$150 a pop? Suckers.

light writes:

Bunch of whiners.

If you don't eat chicken wings before Elton John,what did you eat? A salami?

swamp4ever writes:

in response to SMILES:

I won't ever go to Germain Arena or buy a car with Germain anywhere nearby. I tried to buy a couple of cars there & was treated shabbily, as my witness can attest. I had cash(over $30,000.) when I went back to pay for the car I spent 3 days dealing on. They jacked me around, made my friend miss a transatlantic conference call, & tried to block my exit from the little office they sent a "closer" in to finish the deal with me. He started all over, tacked on $2200.00 for a cargo net & floor mats, & I got up to walk out. He ran around the desk & blocked my exit. I nearly decked him. Had he said even one more word to me, he would have been clutching a very sore area behind a zipper. I will NEVER set foot in another dealership with the name Germain on it in ANY state. I didn't buy any of my cars in Naples. I couldn't get anyone to give me the time of day. I bought 2 cars over the Internet & would easily do it again. One I ordered so could have the features I wanted. I love both of those cars.

Speaking of pleasure, can you share your grocery shopping experiences with us?

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