New Orleans, LA
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
vs. New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints Stadium
December 27, 2009
NFL Stadium Reviews:
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Playing Surface: FieldTurf
Draft Beer: $7.00
Hot Dog: $4.00
Stadium Parking: $30.00
1500 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
Review - Coming Soon
My four year journey has taken me around the National Football League in an effort to truly experience what's it's like to become a fan of each of the thirty-two franchises that are dotted throughout our nation. I've donned a head of cheese in Green Bay, swung a Terrible Towel in Pittsburgh, sung "Hail to the Redskins" and "Skol Vikings" in Washington and Minneapolis, I even assimilated into Raider Nation with shoulder pads and steel spikes. I've partied with some of the NFL's finest fans and tasted exceptional tailgate food prepared by the league's best blacktop culinarians. Along the way, I strived to uncover what true local fandom is all about, supporting the home team as one of it's own like an NFL Chameleon. So finally completing my journey on a late December weekend at the Louisiana Superdome was somewhat bittersweet for me. It was the end of an era but perhaps the beginning of something new as I look for a new challenge to occupy my time.
My wife Crystal and I left for New Orleans on Christmas Day 2009, as a twenty-hour road trip in the Quest Machine separated us from Stadium #31, the Louisiana Superdome. Leaving at around 8:00pm, we drove through the night, arriving in the Big Easy early on Saturday afternoon. In preparing for this trip, I had a difficult time trying to locate the local tailgating community. I checked with the usual sources, but it appears that your typical New Orleans Saints fan does a lot of their pregame celebration in the French Quarter, and I guess who could blame them with the world's most notorious bar district a mere few block from the Superdome. I did however, find that some continue to hold the lamp of traditional tailgating high, located in pockets surrounding the dome, but tailgating seemed a bit subdued in the Big Easy. Probably a reflection of the laid back, easy going nature of its residents.
During this trip unfortunately, I was afforded with very limited time for tailgating. Ever the shameless self-promoter, before heading to New Orleans, I send out my typical press release begging local media for any exposure they might provide. I'm typically ignored (I never said I was a successful shameless self-promoter), but I figured, considering the completion of the Quest, that the local media might find my story somewhat interesting ... I find myself particularly fascinating, why wouldn't others? Much to my surprise they embraced it. The Times-Picayune sent a reporter to spent some time with me throughout the morning and three of the local television stations send camera crews to interview me in the shadow of the dome. It was actually rather gratifying to finally get some exposure for a body of work that was four years in the making.
Media Coverage began on gameday with an appearance on the TV6 morning show at 6:00AM. So after a night of pregame celebration on Bourbon Street, I awoke at 4:00am to begin the process of makeup application that would transform me into the "Who Dat Joker" in honor of my final Quest for 31 stadium visit. Watching Saints games over the years on TV, I've always been impressed by the ingenuity of their costumed fans. They truly approach the quality of gameday apparel that Oakland Raider fans are notorious for, so I figured if I was going to the game, I was definitely going in a Saints-themed disguise. As an aside, I think I should mention that it's a rather humbling experience to have to have you wife adjust your makeup and reapply as necessary throughout the day, but I guess now I know how Gene Simmons feels. After the morning show, it was back to the hotel for a quick breakfast and then to the parking lot to seek out the New Orleans Saints faithful and get some fan reaction to this magical season they've been having, squeezing in an interview or two as I maneuvered from lot to lot.
After getting in some abbreviated face time with the Black and Gold Nation, I found that much of my morning was to be consumed by television and newspaper interviews. This was actually quite a bit of fun. The reporters were very patient with me as I jetted from one interview to the next, asking all types of questions about my journey and my impression of the city and its fans. One in particular, Doug MacCash from The Times-Picayune, took the time to follow me around as I hit the parking lot seeking out supporters of these New Orleans Saints. Between interview questions and photos, Doug followed as I interacted with fans, consumed a couple liquid beverages of choice, and recorded some of my own QuestCam interviews capturing local reactions to the home team's quest for a Super Bowl berth.
Outside the Superdome, adjacent to the south entrance, the New Orleans Saints organization sponsors their own tailgate party that's open to the public and features a live jazz band with some concessions for hungry fans. Lots of the Saints Faithful seemed to gather there for pregame libations and pro football chatter, so I spent the remainder of the morning posing for photos and talking a little gameday strategy. Due to my newfound notoriety, I was recognized as "The Quest Guy" or "Thirty-One" as several folks recognized me from the morning show appearance earlier in the day.
Gametime crept up on us unexpectedly, so Crystal and I headed into the Louisiana Superdome to find our seats in section 125. The Superdome is actually beginning to show its age with tighter concourses and dated architecture, but it still features plenty of restroom facilities and some exceptional local concessions reflecting the Cajun influence of the area. Fans can treat themselves to an alligator sausage, Kajun jambalaya, or a crawfish pie (I opted for the pie). I also noticed a lot more kids and families attending the game than I've seen throughout my travels around the league. It appears that the New Orleans Saints organization and Louisiana Superdome staff have found a way to maintain a family-friendly atmosphere that's free of the juvenile antics of the over-served football fan, which is a feat they should be commended for. I should also mention that in doing so, they haven't sacrificed the intensity or intimidation factor of the home crowd. The Saints fans are a spirited bunch that impressed me with an energy that manifests itself in a coordinated crowd noise putting them on par with the better fan bases in the league. Using the dome construction to their advantage, each time the Saints Defense took the field, a wall of disruptive noise was there to greet the opposing offense, visibly causing miscues throughout the game. In contrast, each time the Saints scored, it sets off a celebration that's like a mini Mardi Gras, as jubilant fans dance in the aisles each time the Saints breech the goal line or blast one through the uprights. Obviously the spirit of Bourbon Street follows these fans into the dome.
game itself is an opportunity that got away from the Saints on this
day. A win over the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers meant locking up home
field advantage throughout the playoffs, securing that the route to
the Super Bowl would travel through this dome of intimidation. The
Saints got out to an early lead, but in the end, let Tampa get right
back into the game. With just over two and a half minutes remaining
in the game, the Buccaneers returned a punt 77-yards to pay dirt to
tie the game and force over time. A missed field goal by Garrett
Hartley was the Saints only scoring opportuntiy in the overtime
period as the game was won by the right foot of Bucs Kicker Connor
Barth from a distance of 47-yards.
|City of New Orleans Local Information|
Top Tourist Attractions:
French Quarter, Bourbon Street
Take a ride on the St. Charles street car
Cajun influenced Cuisine (Jambalaya, Gumbo, Crawfish Etouffee)
Red Beans 'n Rice
What They're Drinkin':
Abita (Amber, Andy Gator, Purple Haze, Turbo Dog), NOLA Brewing (Blonde, Brown Ale), Hurricanes, Bloody Marys
Local Sports Media:
Pocket Map of New Orleans
Stadium Parking Map
Fan Forum: Black and Gold, SaintsReport.com, WhoDatZone
Getting to the Stadium:
The Louisiana Superdome is located right downtown, but event parking presents a unique challenge. Your best bet is to stay parked at your hotel as the city of New Orleans is very walkable. The French Quarter and CBD are within walking distance to the Superdome, but if your hotel is near the airport, I might suggest getting a cab or taking a hotel shuttle.
Bourbon Street (Tropical Isle, BBC, Razzos, Pat O's)
Off Bourbon (The Gold Mine, The Alibi, Ryans, Carrousel Bar @ Hotel
MARIGNY (Mimi's, DBA, Blu Nile, Applebarrel)
CBD (Whiskey Blue, Gordon Biersch )
Warehouse District (Lucy's, Vic's, Republic )
Maple Street (Bruno's Tavern, Rocco's Tavern, Raven)
Other's (Snake N Jake's, The Boot, Cooter Brown's)
Garden District (Balcony Bar, Bulldog, Rendez Vous Tavern)
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|Crystal and I at the Louisiana Superdome||A photo with our halftime performers||Jarrod and I gettin' hyped|
|Hangin' with the Cajun Cannon's boy||BJ, this dude was intense inside the dome||Some great Saints fans|
|Doug MacCash from the Times-Picayune||Are we ready for some football?||Prepping for an interview|
|Maria Vallejo-Helvaci from ABC26 WGNO||A photo with Da Pope||... and Boba Fett|
|The end of an Era||Crystal and I in celebration mode!||Stadium #31 - The Louisiana Superdome|
Please feel free to post any suggestions or comments you might have
for my journey to Louisiana Superdome, including the following:
- Local Hotspots (Bar Districts, Restaurants, Clubs)
- Local Foods (Traditional Cuisine, Micro Brews)
- Tailgating Traditions
- Your Experiences or Helpful Hints
- If you saw me let me know!
All commentary will be moderated. Your e-mail address will not be published.
Robert from New Orleans
Sent: Friday, January 29, 2010 7:29 PM
your review... just for your information, though, there are plans to
upgrade the inside of the aging dome over the next season or two...
those upgrades will include a widening of the concourses... since you
specifically mentioned it I thought I'd let you know
Thanks Robert, definitely appreciate the update. I guess that means I gotta make a return trip when the renovations are complete.
Teddy from New Orleans
Sent: Saturday, January 16, 2010 2:08 PM
for your informative website, I checked out the Cheap Jerseys section
and it was very helpful. I unfortunately bought a fake Brees jersey and
wish I hadn't. It's pretty bad, the 9 isn't even centered under the
Brees, but I thought I got it from a reputable source so didn't even
take it out of the packaging until it was too late. O well. Congrats on
your Quest for 31 accomplishment!
Kemic A. Smothers from New Orleans
Sent: Sunday, January 03, 2010 11:49 AM
commentary is not for the Superdome but for you and your Quest. I'm glad
you had the opportunity to receive some well-deserved media attention at
your final venue in New Orleans. Your "Quest for 31" is a HUGE endeavor,
you really are THE SUPERFAN, and Crystal is a good sport.
Thank you for visiting the Superdome and gracing us with your presence. We love guests and love to show our guests a good time. Feel free to join us again. If you plan on coming back for a playoff game, email me for some complimentary accommodations.
As far as media attention, I'm not surprised they passed on you. But the importance of your Quest is not lost on the fans. The information you provided, outlining your experiences, is VERY valuable to fans of the NFL. I happened upon the article on NOLA.com, followed a link to your web site, and was mesmerized by all the information from the various venues you've had the opportunity to visit. Your work has not gone in vain.
I will definitely inform my friends of your Quest and I'll see you on facebook. Thanks again for visiting New Orleans.
Kemic, I gotta tell you how gratifying it is to receive a comment like yours. I realized early on that I had an opportunity to provide NFL fans with some valuable information, if I took the time to take note of it. It's nice to hear when someone offers up that it might actually be helpful to them. Thanks for writing.
KC from New Oleans
Sent: Sunday, January 03, 2010 10:47 AM
glad you had such a positive review for New Orleans. I think the
tailgating experience may have escaped you though. It's close to the end
of the season and a lot of fans thought we had that game locked up and I
think we were all still hungover from the loss to Dallas. Had you
visited for the Dallas game or any other game this season I think you
would have found the tailgating experience in full swing. The parking
lots near allegros are usually full of people, cooking anything from
gumbo to boiling crawfish to grilling oysters. Hopefully you can come
back and experience New Orleans once again! THanks for visiting! Who Dat!!!!
I'd definitely like to come back. The media attention I received on gameday distracted me from my normal routine, so I was unable to really make it around the lots as I would have liked. I had such a great experience in the Big Easy that I'm certain a return is in the works.
Julie Fowler from Slidell, LA
Sent: Sunday, January 03, 2010 9:28 AM
|Glad your last stadium was the Super Dome..........We love our DOME!!|