So, where to begin. I guess I'll have this post be about the game experience and another about the trip in general.
We left the hotel after changing into our Saints gear around 4:15 with three others that we had met at the hotel bar and chatted with whenever we saw them coming and going. Upon walking out the hotel door we entered a small crowd heading to Poydras and when we turned on that to head to the dome it was like a sea of black and gold. It was a beautiful sight. Every couple hundred feet or so there were people on the side of the sidewalk selling water and beer out of coolers. I've never ever seen that at any game we've ever been to, whether it was there in New Orleans or any other city. At least I don't recall it going on in New Orleans before, it has been over five years since I've been back, so I suppose it's possible.
We didn't take a camera this time, but we had our iphones so I may be able to put some pics up later from them, we shall see. But just a couple blocks from the dome there's a building with a statue in front of it and someone had put up a blowup doll on it with its right ankle taped up and a sign in front saying something like "Hey Brett, how's the ankle?" It was quite amusing.
When we turned off the sidewalk to go up the ramp to the dome we lost the three guys we were with. They must have gone straight to the section that had a stage where Benson and others were giving speeches and holding up the Lombardi Trophy. It was way too crowded so we continued up the ramp and watched for a bit and took a few pictures from there. Then continued up the ramp to the dome. It was only 4:45 or so and the doors weren't opening until 5:30 so rather than stand in line so soon we decided to go ahead and walk around a bit. And besides our gate was G and we were at C which already had people standing at the opening. HDiTty got a corn dog and we each got a drink and stood along the railing people watching while he ate. Afterward we decided to walk some more and then realized that people were coming out of the team shop. So we went back to the entrance and right when we walked up the guy was shutting the gate and said that they couldn't let anyone else in until the doors actually opened at 5:30. They had to have enough time to get everyone out of there by then so they didn't have to worry about who actually had tickets and who didn't.
Which ended up sucking big time because when we got to our gate we realized we were on the side that the sun was shining down right where we needed to stand. We were only like the 5th or so people in line but after being there 5 minutes with sweat pouring out of all pores we decided it wasn't worth it to be there for another 25 minutes before doors opened. So we went and stood in the shade with several others just a little bit away.
Upon entering they were handing out flags to wave so we each got one. Then as we're heading to the NFL shop we see that they're handing out more but in a plastic bag with 5 of them bundled in. We each got one of those as well, they'll be simple/cheap gifts to give to the kids. We got to the shop and looked around. The shop is so much bigger than it ever was before and is very nice. Much more room to move around in compared to the old one. I'm not a claustrophobic person but the old shop could get me feeling that way sometimes when it was extremely crowded. After looking around the only things we saw that we really wanted to buy was a purse for me (black and grey with a grey fleur-de-lis) and a couple of towels for him. I didn't look closely at them but I think one was a Superbowl towel and the other was an NFC Championship towel.
After that we stopped and got some jambalaya and coke for lunch and headed to our seats. We kept climbing and climbing up the ramp and after awhile at every turn I would think, this has to be it but nope just another turn of the ramp. Finally we made it to the next level and started heading around to our section. And of course we passed many food stations along the way but since we've never been that high we didn't know they sold food and drinks up there as well. Lesson learned. But by the time we got to our seats and were able to eat we discovered the food was still warm so that was nice. But yeah, we entered the seating area at row 1 and our row was 36. And with steps that were quite tall we were very tired to say the least by the time we made it up there. It was the very top row in our section so we had the wall to our backs. We found out from our seat mates that there used to be 5 more rows behind us but with the remodeling they cut them out to make a press box/coach box. So the upstairs coaches were right behind us along with Bobby Hebert. One of the season ticket holders was telling someone else about it and he said Bobby is there for just about every game.
Which was really cool. Once the first person noticed that he was up there a chant went out "Bobby, Bobby, Bobby" and he stood up and leaned forward a bit and started waiving and giving thumbs up to us all. HDT got a picture or two, maybe even a little video of him with his phone. We were only 7 seats away from the stairs and every now and then before the game a security person or two would head down them and then a bit later head back up with a "suit." At half time security came down and cleared off the steps and then all of a sudden several guys start heading down real fast all with clipboards or papers in their hands. It was kinda fun to see.
During warm ups every time our guys would leave or come on the field loud cheers would go up. There's always cheering for the home team at every game but these were so much louder than normal. There were boos for the Vikings. I don't agree with that but whatever.
We had 5 flat screens right over head so every now and then I'd look up. Three of them were showing the concerts by Taylor Swift and then Dave Matthews, the other two were showing stats and starting line ups. The only problem was there wasn't any sound but that's ok, I was recording the pregame show at home.
The tent thing goes up that the players run through, the cheerleaders come out and next thing we see is a float coming out with Harry Connick Jr and Benson on it. Harry has a speech and then ends with the Superbowl flag being revealed. The place went nuts and the Who Dat chant went up. It was a version of the wave, it always came to us from the left and then went on to the right. Then our beloved Saints came running on the field.
The opening drive was absolutely awesome. After that it was a bit of a struggle, the offense couldn't seem to get much going, the yardage for everyone seemed lower than normal. But still, Pierre Thomas looked good. Defense did well holding them to just 9 points and blocking that extra kick. I had even said to myself that I hoped they blocked it and then looked down right when it was being kicked so missed the block. When the stadium went nuts I look up and see our side all excited and the fans high fivin' each other. I was sad to say the least. But oh well, at least it happened.
After burning up outside in the sun and humidity I was freezing inside. I went from extreme heat to extreme cold. We each had an empty seat on either side of us and only a young couple in front of us who also had empty seats on either side. So we didn't get all the surrounding body heat one normally would at these events and being in the top row I had the air blowing on me the whole time. I was absolutely freezing, I had goosebumps the whole time. We stood for the entire game and every now and then I'd sit during timeouts, etc. to relieve me feet and then huddle against HDT for warmth. A little before half time the couple in front of us put on jackets, I wanted to rip them off and snuggle in. Heh
At one point, near the end of the game when the Vikings had the ball the screaming and clapping was so loud to distract them that I could barely hear my own screaming and clapping. I have never heard it so loud in there before. Several people, including HDT, were banging their fists on the wall behind us and stomping feet. And then when Brees had the ball it was unbelievably quiet. More quiet then I remember it ever being before. Both were something to behold really. Every time Reggie was at the ready for the return a chant of his name would go up. And at the end of the game, during the final few seconds the Who Dat chant went up again.
We stayed at our seats, along with the couple that were on HDT's side, letting the majority of the people leave. They gave him their ticket since ours were just the Ticketmaster printouts. HDT was very happy about that. When there were relativity few people left we decided to head out. I was able to get into the bathroom without a wait, which was really nice. And no crowds walking down the ramps which was even nicer.
By the time we got back to our hotel room and washed up and changed to meet up with the rest of our vacationing party it was after 11:00 and I was starving.
Bourbon Street was of course crowded with all kinds of people but mostly the fans and shouts of Who Dat could be heard periodically. Bands would put the Who Dat chant in the middle of songs. Yep, it was a great game and a great night. We are so happy to have been able to be a part of it.
Media quote of the day:
Great team win last night against the Vikes. Have to say, the Who Dat chant to start the game was unbelievable! Greatest fans in the world - Drew Brees on twitter - 9/10/10 at 9:46pm