Every diehard fan believes some where in their body that "this is the year". The amazing thing is just how many fans truly believe their team has a shot every year. That's what is great about being a fan, you can believe the unbelievable...and sometimes you even get rewarded...but most of the time you get kicked in the teeth. Just ask Lions or Raiders fans.
As someone that got to experience a magical ride last year...as my Bears made it to the big game...and I was there to see it...let me tell you something. If you are a Football fan, get yourself to a Super Bowl. Do it. And if your team has a shot at it...that's even a bigger reason...there is a magical quality about rooting your team on in the biggest game of the year. And for all the magic that transpires on the television set, it's a totally different thing to experience in person...trust me, this is someone who has uttered the phrase "I'd rather watch it on TV." Until you've been there...you really don't grasp what you're missing.
For those that weren't around for the last Super Bowl here on FanNation, I made the trek, and blogged about the experience on the site....unofficially, or officially depending on how you look at it, covering the Super Bowl for FanNation. This was pre-SI, so there were no "fancy" journalists on the site....and we had to walk 8 miles in the snow just to log into the site...
Anyway, I learned a lot from my adventures last year, and wanted to pass along whatever knowledge I could for the greater good of the Nation. So sit back, put on the Jersey of your team, and contemplate Arizona sun beating down on your face as you prepare to watch your team run out of the tunnel...
When choosing a partner or partners in crime to goto to the Super Bowl with...be smart. First, make sure the person you're going with is a true fan. They'll be the people that really appreciate the trip...plus, they'll be a lot more fun if you win, and great company if you lose. Also, I would suggest against bringing the Significant Other...unless the 2 of you are huge fans, and go to all the games together. And I said significant other, because this applies for females as well...don't just drag your other half to the game because they're your other half. You want someone there that will enjoy the game and spectacle for all it is...and not someone wondering when they can go back to the hotel. Make sure you're going with someone that is going to enjoy the game, and doing the things you want to do at the game.
Get a hotel early...trust me on this...
Go ahead and book a hotel now. Trust me, the reservation doesn't cost anything, and as long as you cancel 48 hours in advance you're all set. If there was one thing I would of changed about the Super Bowl trip, it was the hotel. As you get closer to game time the prices reach the ridiculous. If you looked at rooms right now, you'd probably say, "These prices are nuts!" Well, those prices are nothing compared to the prices you'll find after the AFC and NFC championship games. If you have any plans for going, go ahead and book a room now....I'll wait...the magic of the internet means I'll still be here when you get back...all booked? Good, let's move on.
"It's not what you know, it's who you know"
This rings true in a lot of things in life, but trust me, when getting tickets to the biggest game of the year...this is very true. If you're not a season ticket holder, your chances at getting tickets for the big game go down quite a bit...unless you have a room in your house filled with money...but if you have that, you can ignore all my advice, and still have a great time. Start talking to friends, family, business contacts now...search out those possible connections to tickets...you'll still have to pay, but you might find a deal.
Another options is Ticket Reserve. Friends of mine got tickets through it, and it worked out great for them. Not great seats, but hey any seat in the stadium is better than one on the outside. If nothing else works...jump on tickets earlier rather than later. If you see some on Ebay, or similar site...grab them before the teams are decided...yes, your team might not go, but you can always resell them. Trust me, they'll sell.
Get a ticket to one of the pre-game parties
While searching out tickets...find tickets to one of the pre-game parties...Maxim, SI, Playboy, there are several others...all host parties. The SI one is invite only, but most of the others allow anyone that pays for a ticket in. Of course that will cost you...but trust me, they are worth it. Once again, this is the time to hit up all those connections and people you know...you never know what connection might lead you to the goal...so search them all out. The NFL has many sponsors, and business partners, and they all get tickets to the game and other things...speaking of the NFL...
The Official Tailgate is a must see
The Official NFL Tailgate party...which starts 4 hours before the game, and ends a few minutes before kickoff...is definitely worth it. What is the Tailgate party? Well, it's 4 hours of free food, free booze, free entertainment, free celeb sighting, and free souvenirs...and direct entrance into the game. Of course, it's not really "free" but when you look at the prices for things at the NFL Experience (The "free" pre game option by the NFL) it all of a sudden doesn't look like a bad deal. Beg, borrow or steal to get into the Official NFL Tailgate party...you'll thank me when you do.
Don't be afraid to drive
This refers to 2 issues...
Don't be afraid to fly to a nearby city and drive in. You can find really cheap rates on rental cars...especially when it's split across a couple of people. We flew to Orlando at $250 a round trip, as opposed to Miami at $650 a roundtrip. The Rental car cost us $150 for the weekend...so $650 total as opposed to $650 a piece. Add in the bonus of a road trip, and it just makes sense.
Don't be afraid to drive to the game. If you get there early enough, there is plenty of parking...and when you weigh it against taking a cab or public transit...both of which are hard to come by, driving isn't that bad. Of course, this is based off the Miami scenario...Houston was a traffic nightmare from all accounts...but just keep it in mind, it's not a terrible thing.
Get there Early
Besides finding parking easier, getting there early rewards you with much smaller lines to get in, quicker walks through security, and plenty to do while you wait for the game to start. As mentioned before, there is the Official Tailgate Party...but even if you can't get into that, there is the NFL Experience. Basically, the NFL expereince allows you to goof off for the many hours before the game...and as long as it isn't a miserable, rainy day it would be a load of fun.
This also refers to getting to the city early. If you have a flexible enough schedule, getting to the game a day early, or leaving a day or 2 later can save you big bucks. But who has that flexible of a schedule?
Pack light for the game.
In this day and age of high security at big events...make life easy on yourself...pack light. Don't bring a bag, carry what you need on your person. All you really need is a wallet with lots of cash in it and a digital camera. Binoculars don't hurt, but aren't really needed. Anything else is extra. Remember, there are a lot of freebies at the game, and to be had around. Plus, there will be sourviners...and you have to pass through security...and carry it all with you...so don't bring crap you don't need.
Programs, wait for the ones sold at the game.
Speaking of souviners, DO NOT BUY A PROGRAM PRIOR TO THE GAME. You'll see them all over the place, and it seems like such a great pick up for friends back home...and such and easy grab...but they aren't real programs. They don't have the team specific info about the game...they just have general Super Bowl stuff. At the game, starting once you're first let into the NFL Experience, you can buy real Super Bowl programs. Load up then...trust someone that made the mistake.
Fedex is a great thing
Now you have your programs, you're at the game early...do you carry them around with you all day? What if it starts raining? Not likely in Arizona, but bear with me...well, if you're willing to wait in line, and lay down some dollars...Fedex has a booth at NFL experience, and they'll ship your treaures anywhere you want. Instead of lugging about 40 pounds of programs everywhere...go ahead and pay a few dollars and ship the stuff home. They'll be in better shape, you'll avoid disaster, and you'll save yourself a hernia.
Freebies are your friend
So you're going to the game...and everyone back home wants you to pick something up for them. Only so many programs can be lugged around or shipped...and do you really want to spend all your money on stuff for your friends? Nah, scout around, there are plenty of freebies out there with the Super Bowl logo on it. Pick up as many of those as you can...dish those out to your friends...trust me, they'll love it. And it's stuff you can't really find anywhere. Just got to smell it out, or be willing to pick up after people. I'm not above either of these things...
Oh yeah, remember there is a game...
With all the distractions, all the parties, all the hoopla...don't forget, the reason you're there is to see your team in the big game. Win or lose, enoy the game. Scream your head off...cheer till you can't feel your throat anymore...and enjoy your fellow fans. Win or lose, you're 1 of 2 teams there...no one else can say that. If you win, party hard, but give props to the other side. If you lose, drown your sorrows, but congratulate the other side...you'll find that they'll do the same.
If you take nothing else away from all this...GET TO A SUPER BOWL!!! Seriously, even if you have no chance to see your team there in the near future, just get out there when the chance arises...you won't regret it.