SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Football season means tailgate season and for over a decade Mark Cupelo and his friends have organized the biggest tailgate in town.
Cupelo said it began on a website called Syracusefan.com, where ‘Cuse fans can chat about sports and organize tailgates, and from there the “Fine Mess” tailgate was born.
“Routinely we get about 115-120 people,” he said, “We peaked for the big Clemson game in 2019, we fit about 325 people that day.”
However, this year, thanks to the NCAA allowing players to benefit from their own names and likeness, they decided to take their tailgate to a whole new level.
“We almost joked a little bit and said you know what? We outta get into that game too,” Cupelo said, “We can sell the name of our tailgate to one of the players.”
So that’s exactly what they did, but they didn’t focus on the bigger-name players who were more likely to get a deal. They reached out to a little over 20 of the more under-the-radar players, who you might not expect to get a deal yet, and asked them to submit a response in writing as to why they would be the best fit to represent their tailgate.
Cupelo said, “Let’s see if we can find an under-the-radar kid who you wouldn’t typically expect to get a dime and show some appreciation to him.”
“Enrique Cruz, redshirt freshman offensive tackle, his [response] really, really stood out.” Cupelo said, “He talked about his work with his family back in Chicago supporting breast cancer awareness.”
From there the Enrique SyraCruz Tailgate was born and is ready for what fans and tailgaters are hoping is not only fun but a successful season.
“You know, this group has grown quite a bit,” Cupelo said, “But this really gives us the opportunity to take it to the next step.”