SBS Stadium Series: Super Fun at the Superdome

Written by :
Published on : December 16, 2016

 

 

The annual Lions road game/road trip continues. Year five of the pilgrimage finds the Michigang ditching the cars for plane tickets as my friends and I travel down to New Orleans for a matchup with the Saints at the Superdome. Let’s get inside the famous facility for the best live sporting event I have ever witnessed in this installment of the SBS Stadium Series.

 

A noon kickoff means the crew and I arrived to Champions Square outside the arena around 10am with Lions Mardi Gras beads around our necks and as many Coors Light as our pockets could hold. Despite some grey skies and light rain, the place was jumping. Tons of vendors, booze, all manner of snacks, a raffle and even a live band. It was a great atmosphere.

 

champions square

 

We toured the fan zone, destroyed various meats on sticks and took in all the outside had to offer. Later, we discovered a promotional Bulleit Bourbon table where they offered free mini shots of whiskey. You heard right, free whiskey. This could never happen in Detroit. People would kill each other. We hovered around the Bulleit table getting as many samples as we could. RJ and Joe even traded hats in effort to disguise themselves for extra shots. Totally worked. Needless to say, we all felt pretty good.

 

Michigang NOLA

 

We join the masses and head inside. Ramps, escalators and stairs later, we find our row in the 600 level AKA the nosebleeds. But the awesome thing about the Merceded-Benz Superdome is that there are no bad seats. Even at the tippy top, you have amazing views of the field. It’s just like TV but with no commercials!

 

image2 (3)

 

We settle in with fresh beers and watch the dope intro for each squad. Credit where credit is due, the Saints intro is HYPE. The video, the fog, the shower of gold sparks, the giant flames. It’s wild and really sets the tone. No wonder people love watching this team. The house lights come up for the coin toss and I finally have a chance to look around. That’s when I noticed that the roof looks an awful lot like the Death Star.

 

superdome deathstar

 

Kickoff. Saints get the ball first and go three and out after the Lions bring pressure and force a fumble that Brees recovers and throws away. They punt and Stafford gets his first chance with the ball. Lions drive and settle for a field goal. It is at this moment, the man in front of us turns around. He is a porky pig looking father of three, in a black Saints polo. He mimes a kitty cat licking and cleaning himself. As if to say to us, we aren’t Lions but tiny house cats. Needless to say, I was not happy about this act of aggression. Side note, why would you provoke this crew when you are at the game with children? Does he not know that I am loco? For reference, here is a picture of the back of his pumpkin, I mean head.

 

Superdome dad

 

I’m an adult, so I use my words and we move on. More football, the Lions keep rolling and we share nachos and some frozen drinks. The chant “8-4!” becomes our calling card for every first down or anything positive. And for the first time all year, the Detroit Lions have a lead at the start on the 4th quarter. It felt like I was on a wave that was growing and growing. The sensation was incredible. Then the dagger, on 3rd and 10 at the Detroit 34 yard line, Stafford hits Golden Tate who rumbles for a 66 yard touchdown. We explode.

 

Some excessive dancing causes an armed police officer to issue a warning to one of the crew. As soon as the cop leaves, the Saints fans next to me start apologizing, saying they are sorry someone snitched on us for cheering. They praise our enthusiasm and seem genuinely happy for us. This sentiment becomes a theme, where almost every opposing fan we meet for the rest of the trip was super friendly and complimented us on a well played game. I’ve never seen such a thing. The Lions win 28-13 and we “8-4!” our way out of the stadium. It was pouring outside but we didn’t care. Can’t rain on this parade.

 

superdome rain win

 

We don’t know that dude in the Lion suit, he just joined us for a bit. “One of us!” “8-4!”. Honestly, it was the best sporting event I’ve ever seen. It was an exciting game, that we won. Plus it was big for our team’s playoff chances and I got to share it with my best buddies in the breath-taking Superdome with nicest home town fans a traveler could ask for. New Orleans is a class town with wonderful people. Visit once and you’ll fall in love. Guaranteed.

 

NOLA

 

 


Dear NFL owners, build a dome

Written by :
Published on : December 31, 2015

 

Do you hate your fans? Build a dome. The sun/cold can straight up ruin a game. Tickets, parking, concession, all that ain’t cheap. You’re killing me already. So it’s $200 dollars to sit in discomfort for 3 hours? Are you trying to make me go to Buffalo Wild Wings? Owners, if you are drawing plans for a new home then think of us, the fans. You say you love us, if that’s true then put a roof on it.

 

I appreciate the old gridiron nonsense of yesteryear but this is a new game. It’s built for speed and scoring. The rules committee saw to that. So we all need to adjust. And that includes the majority shareholders. There are some great outdoor stadiums and I’m not saying to tear them down, but if we have a chance to create a new one then I think we really have to consider the experience we are providing. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Super Bowl is normally held somewhere warm or at an arena with a dome. The league knows they don’t want to punish the people who can afford a ticket for the big game. I mean would you pay $5,000 to sit outside at Lambeau in February? The only outdoor/cold Super Bowl host I can think of was in 2014 at the new (at the time) Giants/Jets’ home (in New Jersey) MetLife Stadium.

 

 Minnesota is building a new dome and they will host the 2018 Super Bowl

 

Climate change is real. I know that might me hard to hear (or read) but it is the truth. The winters are going to be worse. And that’s when we have our playoffs, so we need to head indoors. Build a real roof and let’s climate control our Sundays. I know some fans will read this and say “I tough it out for my team” and I love that spirit but we know fans are crazy and will do insane things for the team. I’m just saying it shouldn’t have to be something we “tough out,” not anymore. Not in the billion dollar NFL era. Stadiums have fancy foods, craft beers on tap, huge HD jumbotrons and outrageous StubHub prices. None of that pairs well with thermal underwear and two sets of gloves, so you don’t get frostbite.

 

Looking around the NFL, the divisions that all have outdoor facilities are the AFC North (Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh) the AFC East (Buffalo, Miami, New York Jets, New England) and the AFC West (Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego) while the NFC divisions all have at least one indoor arena. The Arizona Cardinals have a very cool home at the University of Phoenix Stadium because the roof is retractable and has a roll-in natural grass playing surface. This is the modern engineering we need. The folks in the desert know that their weather is mostly great but they wanted the flexibility to shut the roof and crank the AC. Hats off to that. And lord knows we need it, fellow SBS staffer Michael got heat stroke outside tailgating once and would have died if not for the cool, indoor conditions.

 

 Pull up to the scene with my ceiling missing

 

We’ve had some great times in some cold ass games, the Brady “tuck rule” versus Oakland in the snow or famous “Ice Bowl” AKA the 1967 NFL Championship game where Lombardi’s Packers edged the Cowboys in -15 degree temperatures. But it’s time to warm up to the new reality. The game is becoming a premium viewing experience and dealing with weather is for farmers. I’m proud to say the Lions have always rocked a dome (Ford Field, Pontiac Silverdome) in my lifetime. It’s the one thing that the organization has done right. Now we just need some cheerleaders and then maybe we can win a playoff game, but that’s another topic altogether.

 

So NFL owners, please hear my totally original words: if you build it, they will come. And you can charge more and they will pay.

 

Dome mention it.

 

 


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