While I'm glad to have finally gone to a Saints game after all these years of blind faith, if one is ever held at that particular stadium again, I will be darned if I go. (Sorry this is long and ranty... I'm exhausted and Ace shows no signs of sleeping.)
Over 58,000 people attended the game. Traffic was horrendous - there was nobody, and I mean nobody even attempting to handle it. It was each man for himself. Thankfully, I wasn't riding with one of those crazies who won't pay for parking, and we parked close to the stadium, but an otherwise 20 minute drive took us over an hour, mostly spent sitting in the 2 miles before the stadium.
If you are the administrator of a stadium that has a nearly 60,500 person capacity, and you're hosting a sold-out event, what do you do about gates, security, etc? Do you open all the gates and have TONS of organized security, or do you open TWO gates right next to each other and hire 10 mall cops to man the whole thing with no strategy at all? (Seriously, I only saw 4 security guards and a power-hungry nerd with a bullhorn, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt. They were all at the entrance, I never saw one once I got into the stadium.)
Tonight, the administrator chose the latter. My family (stepdad, sister, brother, Drew) and I arrived at the stadium at approximately 5 pm. We walked past a ginormous line of people to the gate marked on the ticket as the gate we were supposed to enter. That gate was closed, and we slowly realized we were supposed to get into the aforementioned line. 45 minutes. 45 minutes we stood in this line. Once people in line started to realize that the mall cops were going to make them miss kickoff, they started to grow restless. People started just rushing the entrance, creating mass hysteria among the people who had dutifully waited. I admit... I gave one girl an earful. I was tame though - there were people dropping f-bombs all over the place at each other... and when I say rushing the entrance, I mean it. People just got tired of waiting.
The mall cops - ahem, I mean security - started out by frisking everyone and checking bags. When I got to where I could see the entrance, the security guards were in such a rush that they were just patting the midsection of everyone walking past, but not searching bags. When kickoff got closer (about 15 minutes away), they just stopped, and were waving everyone by that didn't have an umbrella. Nobody even looked at me as I was walking in, because there were two lines of people going past the security guard manning my line, and I was in the line furthest from her. She was just waving people past.
The line was so long and unmanaged that people were still trickling in during the middle of the second quarter. There were people in our seats when we got there, but we just sat in the nearest open seats. The people that had the seats we were in showed up, and did the same thing we did. Well, right before halftime, some very grumpy (and rightfully so) patrons showed and wanted their seats. They had just stood in line for Lord knows how long, and someone's in their seat. We realized that the people in our seats had tickets 16 rows behind us, and my stepdad had to argue with the people so they would move! Security? None.
I made the mistake of having to go to the bathroom and wanting something to drink right around halftime. Some genius put 2 beer vendors right next to a turnstile exit. Hundreds of people are trying to get out of this exit, while dozens of people are trying to get their Bud. On the way to the concession stand, it wasn't so bad. Again with the cutting in line at the stinking concession stand. I had a guy RIGHT on my back, seriously, it was very European, and he kept apologizing because he just didn't want anyone to cut in front of him.
On the way back - mayhem between the beer vendors and the exit. I'm not kidding, like Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras night, except on Bourbon Street, nobody's trying to get anywhere right now. Again, people are getting into fights all around me, and I'm just trying to keep my mustard-covered polish sausage away from my favorite shirt. Security? None. They were probably crying after the brutality of the entrance fiasco, if they hadn't quit already. Mall cops don't get paid much, do they?
It was unbelievable. This was such a failure on the part of Jackson and on the part of that stadium. Jackson could have spared a few officers to help direct traffic and tame lines at the stadium, and the stadium could have hired a few more security personnel with the gadrillions of dollars they made off of this event. You see, Jackson's in a perpetual state of cringing because of our esteemed mayor's actions, and we can't seem to explain away the things that he does enough to woo visitors and businesses. This is why. Visitors come and it's a city-wide comedy of errors.
Oh, and Drew stepped in gum, it rained on and off most of the time we were waiting in line, and the Saints lost. Peyton Manning's a traitor. Sorry, had to throw that in there.
And now for the positive. I had a good time, I swear. I love going to live sporting events, no matter the sport, and I've loved the Saints for a long time. I'm glad I got to spend some time with my family, although I missed Ace like I've never missed anything before - you'd think I'd be used to leaving him. After the rain stopped, it was very nice, cool and windy, for the rest of the game. That was a HUGE relief, it's been awful here. The game was fun, and I'm so used to the Saints losing that I just laughed and shrugged at the end. My stepdad had a great time, which is pretty much what matters, considering he's the one the tickets were for. So all in all, good times, bad execution.
The boy is sleeping now. Think I'll give it a try.
6 days ago