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NFL Fan Value Experience: New Orleans Saints

NFL Fan Value Experience
18New Orleans Saints
NEW ORLEANS SUPERDOME :: Opened 1975 :: Cap. 64,900

Doug Benc/Getty Images
 
TICKETS
Average Price Per Ticket$54.86
Price Range Of Tickets Single-game tickets not sold; premium ticket avg.: $102.01
Ticket AvailabilityGames sold out since 2005.
"Everyone seems to be in a great mood, win or lose," in this "socioeconomic cross-section" of New Orleans. "Black, white, rich, poor" Saints fans "laugh together, cry together and hold hands and pray the rosary when it looks like the Saints might lose." "It's a little bit of Mardi Gras contained inside a building." And that isn't just talk. More than a few fans take that party spirit to heart, from the "fair share of guys dressed as Elvis" to the "guy who dresses as Moses" to the "Whistle Monster" to "the die-hard fan who dresses up in a costume reminiscent of current events and shakes it between the third and fourth quarters." "Some of those folks have been here for ages, even when the Saints were absolutely terrible. Now that the team is coming off a great season, they feel a part of a bigger purpose." "We've won so little, we appreciate a competitive team more than most fan bases," and "whenever a good season pops up, the house is practically deafening." But "last year ... was not a typical season." "When things are going bad, the only reason you can't hear a pin drop is because of all the people rushing to the exits. People will leave at any given moment if something goes wrong; masses will leave before halftime in a close game because the Saints lost a fumble." Given the team's history, "Saints fans have been able to have a unique sense of humor about losing, but they are aching for more success," as the "playoff atmosphere at every game post-Katrina" attests."
SCORE8 out of 10
 
FOOD & SOUVENIRS
Hot Dog $3.00
Soda (16 oz.)$2.00
Beer (24 oz.)$6.00
Expected Meal Cost$10-$15
Program$5
Cap$6.00
"Food at the dome is a nice mix of standard fare [hot dogs, burgers, fried, etc.] and New Orleans staples [gumbo, jambalaya, andouille sausage sandwiches, pulled pork, etc.]" While "the best crawfish pies and alligator sausage po-boys ever" may make the Superdome "perhaps the only NFL venue to sell that kind of food," some fans feel "there are too many great restaurants in downtown New Orleans to waste a meal in the Superdome." Few, though, caution against paying a visit to one of "the numerous cocktail bars" for excellent Bloody Marys," "hurricanes," "daiquiris" and "screwdrivers." For many, the selection of cocktails provides even more reason to "drink [to] hold me over" and then "have a meal at one of the fine local establishments."
SCORE6 out of 10
 
ACCESSIBILITY
Parking$25.00
"The stadium is smack dab in the middle of downtown," so "there is a plethora of convenient routes that will get you to the party with relative ease." "If you go early, there's no traffic; if you go [two hours before game time], you will be sitting in [your car] for a while." But that's to be expected "when you get 60K-plus people all going to the same place at the same time." "Parking at the Superdome is limited to 5,200 in a garage and isn't open to just anyone." Of course "if you park at the stadium garage, you'll probably wait an hour to get on the streets outside the Dome." "There are plenty of lots and street spaces" just "a few blocks from the Dome." You can even "park by the Mississippi River, and it's still only a 15-minute walk." "Also, you can take the streetcar from mid-city or uptown and get yourself within walking distance." Since the "Dome is flanked by the interstate, getting out of town is a cinch," assuming you can get out of the parking garage, "which can be interesting." "The other side of the stadium is bordered by Poydras Street, which is a nice, wide thoroughfare into downtown New Orleans." "All in all, not a bad experience."
SCORE5 out of 10
 
TAILGATING
As the Dome "is downtown with no [stadium-owned] open parking areas, there is little-to-no space for traditional tailgate parties." "Some people still find spaces to do it, such as on the roof of the parking garage" or "on lots a few blocks away from the stadium," "but they aren't grand affairs." "Plenty of booze, burgers, red beans and rice, etouffee, hot sausages and more" can be had at the "several organized parties" that "stretch for blocks." With "too many alternatives in the form of bars and restaurants" nearby, many feel "it's best to wait for the game to start in a local bar" "around the stadium." "Outside the Dome," "the team presents a good pregame" event, with beer, bands and food vendors" "on the concourse leading to the stadium." This "isn't your typical tailgating" "but we make the best of the situation;" which is clear with every "shucked oyster" or pot of "gumbo" fans cook "on the streets."
SCORE6 out of 10
 
TEAM
<a href=Reggie Bush">
Reggie Bush :: Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Record through Week 94-4
Players Worth WatchingReggie Bush (RB), Drew Brees (QB), Marques Colston (WR)
SCORE5 out of 10
 
STADIUM ATMOSPHERE
Now in its fourth decade of service, the Superdome is more than a facility that "doesn't smell that great," with "dim lighting and seats" that "are a little small and uncomfortable," as well as "far from the field," where "concessions are too far of a walk," sight lines from "the corners offer a weird view of the field" and "the concourses are oppressive and poorly lit with low ceilings." "In our post-Katrina world .. the facility is a place we can unite as a community. It is a very emotional place for many people for many reasons. It is a communal home away from home ... a place to see old friends and restore some semblance of normalcy in an otherwise messed-up situation." Though imbued with an iconic status that softens many of its drawbacks, the Dome is not without its charms, such as the "Dixieland band that strolls the stadium" "getting the crowd dancing whether the Saints are winning or losing," or the feeling that "the building actually vibrates" when "the fans are into it" and the "noise ... is trapped beneath the Superdome ceiling." "The Superdome makes its presence known, but there is no flash to the building. After Katrina, the building went through an all-out refurbishing, but only time will tell how well" this "diamond in the rough" will hold up.
SCORE6 out of 10
 
NEIGHBORHOOD
"Right around the stadium isn't that great" as it is "more of a financial-district scene" with its "skyscrapers" and "business offices." "The one main public area -- a shopping mall called the New Orleans Centre -- has sat dormant since Hurricane Katrina." "Just beyond" the Central Business District the Superdome calls home "sits the holy grail of weekend distractions and imminent marriage counseling -- the French Quarter and Bourbon Street." The residential areas bordering the "10-minute walk" to the "most party-friendly couple of square miles in the country" can be "sketchy in some places, but as long as you know where not to go, you'll be OK." Given the "broken windows" around the Dome that still attest to Hurricane Katrina's presence, many still find the neighborhood "a little eerie."
SCORE6 out of 10
 
BOTTOM LINE
Color us cynical, but we get the sense that Katrina and the improvements made to the Superdome after the storm gave the Saints' home a stay of execution by the fans. For as much as the crowd appreciates what the Dome symbolized in the aftermath of the hurricane, and for the resurgent Saints, the Dome is dark, cramped and has iffy sight lines. But after more than three decades, it would be surprising if the Dome didn't show its age. To their credit, Saints fans haven't called for the wrecking ball, a wise idea considering the city has a lot more pressing needs. And, really, what more does a football fan need than an affordable place to watch the game that offers a memorable experience, win or lose. With the many characters that roam the stands, the reasonable ticket prices and the ease of getting to and from the stadium and the city around it, the Superdome does the job for which it was intended.
FINAL SCORE42 out of 70
 
 

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