The Superdome for a Super Game!
Let me preface this post by saying that Hubby is a sports fanatic. Sure, I like sports, some more than others, but maybe just not so many of them. Even before we got married we used spectator sports as a negotiation opportunity.
Hubby: I want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers play this year.
Me: What city are they playing in that we can travel to for a long weekend of fun, with the game thrown in? That way everybody wins!
The good news is we get to see our favorite team play. The bad news is that thousands of other people will descend on the same city…at the same time. Here is how we made the most of a trip centered around the Superdome in New Orleans.
Getting there was easy because we weren’t traveling from a city or state that was competing in the game. Luckily, we had miles/points for our airline tickets, both ways. Availability is always difficult around big games, so be prepared to be flexible with arrival/departure dates. This time, we arrived the day of the game (early), and flew out 2 days later.
We chose to rest our heads at the Hilton on St. Charles for several reasons. We like staying close enough to walk to the Superdome so that we don’t have to pay for parking, or fight traffic to and fro the game. In New Orleans, that doesn’t mean you add time to travel for sightseeing the next day, since everything is so close together. No need to rent a car, so this one was a win-win.
In addition, I booked early enough that we reserved our rooms using points. That’s right, we didn’t pay one red cent for our hotel rooms on this trip. Room rates seem to skyrocket around big games and events, so using loyalty points can be a great option. If we aren’t using points to stay, I usually search for the closest hotels to the venue that I collect points with, or have reward status with so that we can be earning points at the very least.
Our entire family of 5 went, so we had two connecting rooms. Hotel status insured that we got a room on a high floor away from the elevator, even though the hotel was completely booked. I was surprised at the amount of space we had even with each room having 2 double beds in them. The rooms each had a mini fridge in them which we used for leftovers later in our stay. Their room service utilizes the restaurant Luke, which is located on the ground floor.
Since food inside stadiums is always pricey and sometimes questionable, we always try to eat a big meal outside the stadium before the game. e had a snack at lunchtime and then had a combination lunch dinner around 4pm. Is that linner? or dunch? hat meant between a family of 5, we had 2 cokes and one bucket of popcorn during a 3 1/2 hour football game. That is a serious win in my book. Of course it helps that the game was gripping and no one really wanted to leave their seats.
Anyway, Cafe at the Square was a surprising find. It was actually recommended by the Hilton front desk, so always ask the locals. It was just a 2 block walk from the hotel. I was excited at the variety of food, including alligator. The service was great and there were several other tables of people gearing up for the game.
The Hilton St. Charles is about a 3 block walk from the Superdome. Thankfully it was a short walk, since it was unusually windy that night. here are outside bars and fan experiences going on as you approach the dome. So be sure to arrive extra early to take in the fun! It also allows you to get a lay of the land and see what stadium entrances have shorter lines, etc. As usual, the earlier you show up the more smoothly your experience will go.
Every stadium has some sort of regulation about the size of purse or bag that you may bring into the stadium. I suggest looking those up on the website ahead of time, as they seem to be constantly changing. I try to take a little cash, ID, 2 credit cards, a jacket and my phone. Since my youngest, Bo, is 10, I don’t need anything more than that. Always wear clothes or a jacket with enough pockets. The lines are always shorter for those without bags too.
One great tip is to wear a packable jacket. I have a Lands End packable jacket that stores in a small pouch. So inside the dome, I packed my coat in it’s pouch and hung it from the arm rest so that I didn’t have to hold my coat, sit on it, worry about it dropping on the floor (Eeeek!), or drape it on the back of my chair and pray the person behind me was thoughtful.
Although my kids have been to lots of sporting events, I always make them keep their ticket in their pocket and invoke the buddy system. That way, if they forget what section, row, etc. we are in, all they have to do is look at their ticket and ask a staff member. This works for adults, too.
Make sure to take a lot of pictures throughout the game. You can always delete the experience from your phone or camera if your team loses. The Superdome has several big screens and good stats boards throughout the stadium. That’s important so that you can still see watch the game when your 11 year old, Duke, decides to take a 10 minute cat nap on your shoulder during the 3rd quarter. At least you can still watch the game while his body reboots from the early flight that morning.
There were several stores open on the walk back to the hotel, to stop and grab a cold beverage. We grabbed a few things and joined the sea of people walking the streets. We were very thankful for a short walk back to the hotel at 11pm, so the kids could get to bed straight away. So as an adult in the connecting room, when your team wins and you are so keyed up you can’t sleep, nothing beats a cold beer to celebrate! Go team!!