Watching an NFL game at Metlife Stadium
My soccer mate Ross asked me what was on the itinerary for my trip to New York the day before I left. Knowing he was only interested in the sports related items, I told him I had secured tickets to a Knicks game but I would give the NFL a miss seeing as I’m just not a huge NFL fan. Ross wasn’t having a bar of it. ‘Oh, you’ve got to go and see an NFL game if you’re in New York’ he said. ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan or not, it’s just a spectacle.’ His conviction was persuasive so I jumped onto Stubhub and bought some tickets in the nosebleeds. Ross was right. It is a spectacle.
As I walked through the car park I noticed lots of Jets fans having impromptu Barbeques and picnics out the back of their cars. They call it ‘tailgating’ but it has nothing to do with road rage, just people overcoking sausages and eating heat affected coleslaw. The outside of the arena itself looks like an elaborate children’s birthday party. There’s a bouncy castle full of inflatable linebackers to run around in, the full cast of the Ninja turtles, face painting, a football toss simulator and a chance to ‘Meet The Cheerleaders’ (which catered to a slightly older male demographic than the bouncy castle). It was impressive. If I was 10 years old, I wouldn’t have wanted to go inside the ground.
Even for someone with no interest in the game, there’s enough going on inside Metlife Stadium to keep you entertained. The sales promotions just do not stop. You would see less ads watching on TV. If an NFL team is made up of 53 players, at least 30 of them must be marketers because every spare moment (and in the NFL there are quite a few) was filled with a marketing concept. My favourites included:
The Waste Management football toss: Throw a ball into a garbage bin and win. Kid beats his Dad and then has about five seconds to pose for a picture with the Jets cheerleaders before being ushered off the field.
The Pepsi 2 minute warning.
The Tostidos Lucky Row: Sadly I wasn’t in it so I wasn’t showered in free corn chips.
Toyota Flex Cam: Encouraging fans to show off their guns.
Jets Cooking School Commercial: Why not join Jets Alumni Tony Richardson at the New York Jets cooking school. (perhaps they’ll reveal their secret fried hot dog recipe).
Seasonal World Launch Crew: Guys with rocket launchers firing footballs indiscriminantly into the crowd (yet I had to empty my bag of Ruffles into a clear plastic bag…)
Food at Metlife Stadium
I was also keen to find out what the snack of choice was at Metlife Stadium so I went for a walk to see what was on offer. They had everything from french fries to Mrs Field’s cookies there. All you need to do is mortgage your house so you can pay for it. For someone like me, traveling on a budget, the best option was ‘Bacon on a stick’ at the price point of $5. How can you go past it. A delicious rasher of bacon, dipped in maple syrup and conveniently served to you on waxed paper? It’s the lunch of champions.
Oh yeah, and then there is the game itself. The Jets lost, which was unfortunate because I had already bought the t-shirt at halftime and jumped on the bandwagon but regardless, I was an NFL convert by 4:00pm. I guess we’ll never know if it was the Ninja Turtles, the bacon on a stick or the game itself?..
The Jets fan next to me saw the writing on the wall and decided to leave midway through the 4th quarter. He looked at my Jets t shirt and rolling his eyes said ‘another day at Metlife stadium huh?’ ‘Yep’ I said knowingly, choosing not to blow my cover. I mean yeah, I may not completely understand the history of his team but I am a Tigers fan and if there’s one thing I understand, it’s disappointment.