What started off as a group of six tailgaters has ballooned into weekly crowds of 40 to 60 loyal Raven fans. Bill Crochunis (Founding Father) and his sons Nate and Mike, were among the core group that started this whole thing back when the NFL finally returned to Baltimore. Many in the group attribute the success of their tailgate swarm to a bus they purchased way back in October of 2001.
You see, when the team moved from old Memorial Stadium to the new stadium downtown, the group added another tailgate vehicle to the mix for their tailgates, but it seemed like something was missing. It was during this time that John Aldave started thinking about obtaining a small bus to haul everyone, as well as all the tailgate goodies, down and back from games.
John was able to locate a bus on eBay in Jacksonville, FL for $1200, which included sale price plus delivery. A great deal! The money was put forth by 9 members of that elite tailgating squad (John Aldave, Rob Aldave, Ben Kenney, Todd McNeill, Jack Williams, Bryan Loden, Bill Crochunis, Nate Crochunis, and Mike Crochunis). The bus was appropriately given the name "GameTime" in ode to Ray Lewis' chant before games.
After attending the next home game with the bus, the group decided to hold an impromptu painting party. This party featured a can of spray paint in one hand and a can of beer in the other hand, which I believe may be illegal in some states. But we won't tell. GameTime was painted purple and black with the grand total of the paint job coming out to $100. Little did they know that this paint job would last her for 6 seasons of Baltimore Ravens Football. Other additions to the bus included a keg system with tap, stereo system, and a toilet they call “the Bob” in honor of Bob Irsay, which is a fitting tribute.
It wasn't until the 2006 season that bus member, Todd McNeill, started bringing up the idea about giving the ol' girl a nicer paint job. As it turns out, Bill had a friend who had a friend who owned a restaurant in Baltimore named J.D.'s Smokehouse. They offered to put up the money to have her professionally painted. John had a friend who owned Automotive Collision Technologies that offered to paint the bus at cost. The wheels were set in motion. The bus was primed and painted just in time for the first home game of the season although the bus sported no decals during her freshly painted debut. Finally a friend of Nate’s, Todd Parks, donated his expertise in the decal profession, and designed and applied the lettering and logos to the bus, to complete the transformation.
GameTime has hosted bachelor parties, wedding parties, pub crawls, Halloween excursions, and trips to prom. She is now heading into her ninth season as a fixture on Tailgate Lot H, and with a the new face lift, GameTime is ready to tackle another nine years of tailgating!