As I mentioned yesterday, I managed to snag a pair of tickets to the Carolina Panthers vs. Patriots game that happened last night. As anyone who pays attention to football can tell you, the Panthers got trounced heartily by their New England foes, but that didn't stop the wife and myself from having a great time.
Taking advice from a coworker, I managed to snag a "primo" parking space in a lot that was only charging $15 for parking (prices ranged from $5 to $50, depending on how close to the stadium you wanted to get). We walked past a lot of tailgaters on our way to the stadium, but since we only came down in time to make it to the game, we didn't do any pre-partying ourselves.
The walk from car to stadium was 100% uphill. I swear they put the stadium on the top of the hill, as people coming from the other direction complained about the same thing. We were sweating a bit by the time we made it to the gates – luckily we had planned ahead and each brought a 1 liter bottle of water that we immediately sucked down once we were inside.
Nobody ever promised us good seats with the free tickets. We were in section 532, which meant we were in the highest section of the upper level. We had to walk up about a quarter mile of switchback ramps to get to the 500 level of the stadium.
By the time we got to the 500 level, we were drenched in sweat and stopped to relax in the cool breeze that we felt for the first time since we had entered the stadium. My wife (who remember, is 5.5 months pregnant!) rested for a bit while I ran off to get us something cool to drink. A huge diet pepsi and a beer later, we were cooling off and ready to go find our seats. We found the proper section and tried to figure out how far we had to climb to get to where we'd be at for the duration of the game.
It turns out that row 24, where we were located, was not the highest row in the stadium, but it was damn close. About 4-5 rows was equivalent to a flight of steps, so we climbed about 5-6 flights of steps up the grandstand to get to our row. We needed another cold drink by the time we got to the top.
When we finally cooled down long enough to take in our surroundings, we realized that although we were about the height of Icarus when his wings melted from the heat of the sun, we had a pretty good view of the field.
The perspective was a little weird, being so foreshortened, so throughout the game we had to keep looking over at the sidelines to see what kind of yardage gain the teams had made. Still, we could see everything and the people around us were a lot of fun to cheer with.
In the end, the Panthers got trounced, I drank a few beers, we had some decent barbecue, participated in the screaming crowd on all the great plays, and generally had a great time. The walk back to our car was all downhill, and we stayed cool by munching on a Ben & Jerry's ice cream cone each as we went (I opted for Cherry Garcia, Dee had Cookie Dough).
All in all, a great experience for both of us for our first trip to a professional football game. It is definitely something I'd want to do again, although I'd try to plan for a game where the weather would be a bit cooler. I'm sure my wife feels the same way :-)
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