From The Tailgate Party Scene To Inside The Mercedes Benz Superdome
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Nightlife Blogger
Who dat!? Where dat!? Is dat another touchdown!?
I said those three things a lot during my New Orleans Saints game-day experience at the start of the 2018 NFL season. From the tailgating to the Mercedes Benz Superdome and onto Bourbon Street (again) I was there, immersed in moments that are as special to the locals as the Mardi Gras parades.
That’s because the people in New Orleans love their Saints. Due to them, the Saints game-day NFL experience was a true experience.The fans brought their their lively fun-loving laissez les bons temps rouler to the game.
They dressed in black shirts and jerseys – most of which had a BREES and the number 9 on the back – and even more outlandish outfits. Like the elderly man who looked like the Pope and one interesting character that had a huge gold spray-painted whistle on the top of a gold spray-painted helmet.
This overwhelming passion came as a bit of a surprise to me because, well, the team has not exactly been on par with, say, the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys or Pittsburgh Steelers when it come to winning championships.
In fact, the Saints are more known for prompting fans to wear paper sacks over their heads at games than for sacking quarterbacks.
When I asked a local why the people are such big fans despite a long tradition of not winning she said “yes, for a long time they were the ‘Aints and we wore bags on our heads. And we still loved them. But then Katrina hit and then we won the Super Bowl and it was like they just became a part of us. The timing of it, at a time we really needed it, well it just all came together.”
Then she added, “I think I’m going to cry!”
I could certainly hear that passion during the game. It got really loud before big plays. At times, it was like being at a college game. The beginning of the game was like that of an NBA game with the lights dimmed, loud music playing and players running onto the field through pyrotechnics. Very entertaining.
Strangely, I was somewhat disappointed in the tailgate party situation. While it was fun, it wasn’t overwhelming: a couple dozen people here and there drinking by pop-up tents that had cocktails for $10 and a few people grilling by their vehicles in small parking lots.
The most lively place was in a small plaza down from Dave & Busters in a little square at Loyola and Lafayette streets, next to the Allegro bar. That bar also had pretty good post-game activity for about an hour. There were also people walking all along Podrays Street toward the Superdome – drinks in hand, of course, because you can do that in New Orleans.
I guess I was expecting a scene like on Bourbon Street during a second line parade – masses of people marching down the streets pushing up those multi-colored umbrellas, a jazz band trailing along, that kind of thing.
Before entering the stadium, we did stop for little while a nice area by the stadium’s main entrance, a modern plaza with food and beer stands. But that was inside the first inspection zone meaning you couldn’t bring in your own drinks, so we did not linger there for long. There were people walking all along Podrays Street toward the Superdome.
I was certainly thankful that the Saints play in an indoor stadium. While it was “bayou hot” outside, we were sitting back, relaxing in air conditioned comfort. Overall, I found the seats to be quite cozy and the Superdome to be a very nice facility.
A nice new bar opened near section 100 for the 2018 season. So nice, when we went into it, I thought we had snuck into a luxury box. But then I saw the drink prices ($20 for a Bloody Mary – yes, 20 bucks!) and got in a line so achingly slow I was afraid we would reach the 4th quarter cutoff by the time we got a chance to order a drink.
So we went to another bar and it had a similarly slow line. My advice is to forget these places and go to one of the portable bars located all around the concourses.
I could have had an ice-cold beer in about 30 seconds from a vendor but all they sold was Bud Light, Coors Light and Budweiser, not exactly brews that are in my Hall of Fame.
The security people were all “New Orleans nice,” which I found to be great. That really helped to make for a good game-day experience.
I found the game itself to be quite entertaining. After all, the Saints have city hero Drew Brees as quarterback and the offense put up points almost as rapidly as the defense gave up points. It was the defense – especially in the secondary – that had Saints fans thinking about bringing their grocery bags to the next game.
“Oh no,” my local friend said, “I think we’re the ‘Aint’s again.”
After the game, you might think Bourbon Street would have been overflowing with fans but locals really don’t go there and I did not see much of a post-game party scene. NFL teams don’t travel anywhere near like college football teams, so I did not see hardly any fans from the other team.
But it was Bourbon Street and, well that’s enough to “move ‘dem chains” on the fun level.